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Wake Up, Island
written by Mary Casanova
illus. by Nick Wroblewski
University of Minnesota Press
(HC) 978-0-816-68935-4
The Hunter: A Chinese Folktale  
Book Description:

Wake up, little one, a soft voice beckons, the world around you is already stirring. As Wake Up, Island gently rouses the sleepy child, it summons a world of nature coming to life on a summer island in the magical North Woods. Sunlit fingers touch the shores, pine trees stretch their limbs, and lichen warms on ancient rock. Doe and fawn rise from their grass bed and pearls of dew bead a spider’s finely woven web. Mallards skim the water’s surface. Ravens perch and gargle greetings, chickadees call dee, dee, dee, and a heron swoops—minnows flee! The moose and her calf wade, munching on plants. The red squirrel chatters. The black bear lazily scratches her back against a tree.

Conjuring the morning life around a cabin fragrant with berry pancakes, this timeless book wakens the child in every reader to the wonders of nature that greet every new day in the charmed world of a northern woodland island.

Reviews and Comments
Casanova, who lists several sources for the story, tells the tale in a dignified yet moving way that is complemented by the stark artwork. Arid-looking, dun-colored paper is the background for Young's masterful brush strokes, which evoke the spirit of each spread.
—Starred review, Booklist
The tale of his sacrifice is well told in measured, poetic prose, unified by repeating word patterns. Young's spare calligraphic illustrations, ink against a muted golden-brown background that recalls old silk, are more suggestive than representational.
—Starred review, School Library Journal
In this spare retelling of a Chinese folk tale, a hunter receives a wonderful gift that ultimately costs him his life. ... this multilayered tale will leave readers moved and thoughtful.
—Starred review, Kirkus Reviews
Casanova elegantly relates the tale of a self-sacrificing hunter, ably assisted by Young's expressive and moody art.
—Starred Review, 2000 Blue Ribbon Book,
Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books
The union of a moving and simply told tale and subtly evocative illustrations make this an especially beautiful picture book—one that deserves to be treasured.
—The Five Owls
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • Prairie Bud Children’s Book Award Master List (South Dakota)
  • Starred reviews: Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist, BCCB
  • Top 100 Books for 2000 by the NY Public Libraries
  • San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book
  • Parent’s Choice Gold Award
  • Booklist Editor’s Choice
  • American Bookseller’s Pick of the List
  • American Folktale Society Aesop Accolades winner
  • Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award
  • BCCB “Blue Ribbon Listz?
  • Red Clover Master List (Vermont)
  • Minnesota Book Award Winner, 2001
Curriculum Information
China - and Related Topics:

For a list of books related the China theme, for elementary readers, go to the Multicultural Kids page “China.?

ASOP Annotated Bibliography Resource List:
Lists books recommended by participants in UVM Asian Studies Outreach Program (ASOP). ASOP is a program sponsored by the University of Vermont and dedicated to “promoting Asian studies in Vermont schools.?

Listening Activity

Folklore comes from the oral tradition and when a story is retold it is often changed to reflect the perspective of the teller. This is true of The Hunter and any other folktale retold by an oral storyteller or an author who writes the tale for others to read.

After reading aloud The Hunter. Review the details of the story by asking the following questions:

  • What is the story's setting?
  • What clues were in the text to help you know where the story was set?
  • Who is the main character?
  • What is special about the main character?
  • What is the problem?
  • What happens when Hai Li Bu is out hunting?
  • What does Hai Li Bu expect in return for his good deeds?
  • What does he request?
  • In many folklore tales when a gift is given there is often a restriction to its use. Was the gift given to Hai Li Bu restricted in any way?
  • By listening to the animals, Hai Li Bu learns of a danger -- what is that danger?
  • Why do you think the villagers don't listen to Hai Li Bu? What words in the story made you think that?
  • Why do you think Hai Li Bu tells the villagers his secret?
  • How does the story end?
  • Folklore stories are often told as a moral lesson to those who hear the story. What do you think the lesson or message of this story is?

Writing Activity

Mary Casanova wrote the ending of this Chinese folklore in a traditional manner—tales from the folklore tradition often call for sacrifices to show the strength of one's integrity. Could you think of another way that the story, The Hunter, might have ended? Write that ending and then after sharing your new ending with others discuss how your new ending changes, if it does, the lesson or message of the story.

Brainstorming Guide

A special thanks to Britta Ferrell for creating this downloadable brainstorming guide for The Hunter. Click on the image to the right or the icon below to download a PDF version of the guide.

French Edition
French Translation by by Catherine Bonhomme
(HC) 978-2878332704
Circonflexe, 2000
Le Chasseur

Il y a bien longtemps dans un petit village de Chine, vivait un jeune homme nommé: Haï Li Bu. Pour avoir sauvé le fils du roi dragon, il se voit remettre une pierre ronde qui permet de réaliser un souhait. Mais à la condition de ne divulguer son secret à personne, sous risque d'être transformé en pierre. Qui sait de quoi Haï Li Bu est capable pour sauver son village...

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