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Caldecott Monday: The Funny Little Woman

Arlene Mosel's The Funny Little Woman is a retelling of a Japanese folktale about a woman who chases a rice dumpling down a hole, only to follow it right into the realm of the oni, toothy monsters who make her into their cook. She loves cooking, so she sticks around for a while, but eventually she gets tired of cooking for oni all day and flees back to the surface, taking the oni's magic rice paddle with her.

I liked this book a lot. The illustrations are delicately beautiful: I particularly liked the golden weeping willow trees and the glowing green caves where the oni live. And I really enjoyed the story - there's something Alice in Wonderland about it, isn't there? I suspect that it's a case of convergent evolution in storytelling: different cultures come up with stories about going into holes in the ground and finding brave new worlds, because who doesn't suspect that holes in the ground might hide something rich and strange?

The funny little woman herself is a bit Alice-y in her ability to remain mostly unphased by the bizarreness that surrounds her. She stays with the oni for a while because why not, but when she starts to miss her little house up in the sunshine, it's see ya, oni.

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Comments

I Googled the images again, and, ha, they do definitely have an appealing and distinctive quality, yes. It sounds like a fun book. :-)
It's super cute! It made me wish I had a classroom full of kids to read it to.