I fell in love with Ed Young’s children’s picture books when I was taking a children’s literature class at the library school I attended.
Many of his stories that I love are drawn from folktales of different cultures and teach moral lessons to children through his simple text and stunning illustrations.
Mouse Match, an ancient Chinese tale, tells the importance of recognizing the value of those who are around us. What about Me is an ancient fable from the Sufi tradition that says: we receive when we are giving and “knowledge comes to us when we least expect it.” I, Doko: The Tale of a Basket, which originated from Nepal, tells us how to treat elders. Donkey Trouble retells an Arabian story that conveys the truth that to prosper one must follow his own heart.
Raised in Chinese culture, Young’s art and prose are profoundly influenced by his Chinese roots. He once said, “A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words. They are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe…” We see this aesthetic approach throughout his works.
The Seattle Public Library carries a comprehensive list of Young’s children’s picture books. Below are some of my favorites.
Long, long ago, a good woman has to leave her three daughters at home by themselves because she needs to visit their grandmother. Before she leaves, she tells her children to close the door tight and to latch it. An old, hungry wolf who disguises itself as their grandmother tricks the three girls and gets inside the house not long after their mother is gone. Want to find out what the three remarkable children do to save themselves? Then read this Caldecott winning book.
Hook, an eaglet, is encouraged by his adopted mother, a caring hen, to fly to where he belongs. With a young boy’s help, after many tries, he finally rises to the sky…
From this book, children from a very young age learn that “knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole.” Colors and the days of the week are also taught to children through the seven little mice’s’ pursuit for truth.
Antonia wants to have a Mei Mei, a younger sister, so badly that she plays with Mommy and Baba pretending that she is a Jieh-Jieh, a big sister. She even has an imaginary Mei Mei whom she can play with. But when her family brings back a real Mei Mei from China, Antonia feels so left out… Will Antonia still want a Mei Mei and love her?
Click here to browse more of Ed Young’s children’s books, as well as other authors’ books that he has illustrated.