Peach Boy: A Japanese Legend, retold by Gail Sakurai ISBN 0816734097
Five out of five stars
This old Japanese folktale shares many characteristics of many legends of other cultures. A poor old couple is childless until the woman finds a giant peach floating down the stream. She takes it home, thinking that they will have some fresh peach as part of their next meal. They are surprised when it opens, and a young boy emerges.
He proves to have a ravenous appetite and grows rapidly, becoming strong and very helpful to those around him. A group of ogres has terrified the population, stealing their valuables and destroying their possessions. The boy vows to fight and defeat the ogres and after acquiring a sword and being given provisions, he sets out on his adventure.
Along the way, he aids some wild animals by sharing his dumplings and they accompany him on his journey. Once he arrives at the castle of the ogres, with the assistance of the animals, he beats up the ogres and gets them to give up their treasure and forever leave the villagers alone.
The child being found floating on a river is a very old and ubiquitous story, think Moses of the bible. Growing up to be the hero and sharing his belongings with wild creatures is also found in many other tales. This is a nice story with a simple plot, the hero saving his family and neighbors from a consistent threat that no one else seems capable of dealing with. While not original by any means, it still makes for a good tale to be read to children.