Friday, September 3, 2021

Review of "The Greatest of All: A Japanese Folktale," by Eric A. Kimmel

 Review of

The Greatest of All: A Japanese Folktale, by Eric A. Kimmel ISBN 0153073268

Five out of five stars

Classic tale of looking elsewhere for what is already there

 There are many stories of people searching for the prize elsewhere when it is already nearby. The classic “Wizard of OZ” is the best known. This book for children is another rendition of this tale, this time the main characters are rodents, and the location is Japan.

 A  family of mice live in a corner of the Emperor’s palace and one day pretty daughter Chuko came to her father and told him that a field mouse named Ko Nezumi has expressed a desire to marry her. Since he lives in the Emperor’s palace and eats crumbs for the royal plates, her father considers himself the mouse equivalent of royalty. Therefore, he forbids his daughter from marrying a commoner.

 In an attempt to find a much better husband, the father consults the Emperor and asks that the Emperor marry her, for he is the best possible match. The Emperor declines, saying that the sun is greater. This begins a chain of “better thans” that goes through the clouds, wind and a stone wall. The end result is that the father discovers that the common field mouse is the best match of all.

 This is a great story for children and is a lesson in multicultural studies as well. Although the plot is classic and has been used many times, it never ages or loses relevance.

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