________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 7 . . . . November 27, 1998

cover The Fox's Kettle.

Laura Langston. Illustrated by Victor Bosson.
Victoria, BC: Orca Books, 1998.
28 pp., $7.95 (pb), $17.95 (cl).
ISBN 1-55143-132-7 (pb), 1-55143-130-0 (cl).

Preschool - grade 3 / Ages 4 - 8.
Review by Joan Payzant.

**** /4


The samurai fox shook his head. "The landowner will not allow the kettle in his house. And we will not eat food thrown out a window."

"The landowner's mansion?" asked a female fox who pranced back and forth in a rich purple gown. "It must be very beautiful there."

Akoya could see envy flashing in those slanting fox eyes. "It is beautiful," she said. "Very, very beautiful." She told the female fox of luscious silks and delicate foods, of great paintings and wonderful banquets. She spoke of wealthy travelers from exotic lands who came bearing gifts.

"I would like that." The female fox flashed long, painted claws before Akoya. "I would like that very much."

image Laura Langston, author of The Fox's Kettle, has had three previous books published by Orca Book Publishers. One of these, The Magic Ear was also her first collaboration with award-winning illustrator Victor Bosson. The Fox's Kettle is a tale of Akoya, a beautiful Japanese young woman who befriends a fox, disguised as a samurai, at her parents' inn. In Japan, foxes are believed to control rice crops. Akoya's fox friend gives her a big black kettle with instructions on how to care for it so that her village will experience flourishing rice crops.

      For several years, Akoya successfully carries out her promise to the fox, but then her circumstances change. Because of her excellent storytelling ability, somewhat like Scheherazade, she goes to live in the home of the area's most powerful landowner to be his official storyteller. She is forced to leave behind the magic black kettle at her parents' inn. The remainder of the story tells of the dire consequences of this event, the failure of successive rice crops, and Akoya's resourceful solution to the problem.

      Victor Bosson's illustrations perfectly reflect the Japanese theme. His watercolours skilfully evoke the style of traditional Japanese prints. Full page illustrations face each page of text, an attractive feature for today's young readers, accustomed as they are to television and computer graphics. The type font is a suitable size, and, at the start of each page, an eye-catching drop-capital letter, suggestive of oriental brush calligraphy appears. The Fox's Kettle was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award in the Children's Literature-Illustration category.

Highly recommended.

Joan Payzant is a former teacher-librarian who lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

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ISSN 1201-9364