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The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks
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The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  281 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Coveting a mandarin duck for his magnificent plumage, a greedy Japanese lord captures and cages him for all to admire. But the wild drake pines for his mate. Some compassionate servants release the drake to go to his mate, but are sentenced to death for it--and the drake comes to their rescue. Watercolor and pastel paintings illuminate this Japanese folktale.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 26th 1990 by Dutton Juvenile
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(showing 1-30)
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Oct 08, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Newbery author, and a Caldecott illustrator. Definitely a winning combination. I wish there had been an author's note.
Jan 05, 2010 Casey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a duck that goes away from his wife to get food but gets captured. When one of the people in the village is keen on setting it free the king gets mad. Will the duck ever get out? Read this book to find out.

This book was ok. This book has romance and care.

I recommend this book to girls who like fairy tails.
Connie D
Oct 18, 2016 Connie D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit
Beautiful illustrations, lovely story.
Blair Brown
Feb 04, 2016 Blair Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks is one of greed and oppression, but also the victories of fidelity and self-sacrifice. The tale is set in Japan and follows the fate of two loyal servants and a mated pair of Mandarin ducks. The local overlord, who distains anything that is not pleasing, persecutes his loyal servant Shozo because he has lost an eye in his master’s service. Similarly, a beautiful Mandarin drake is captured and then cast aside when he begins languishing for his mate. When a serving g ...more
Hana Sm.
Sep 13, 2016 Hana Sm. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian
The story's plot is based in medieval Japan during the times of samurais and emperors. An evil ruler who works under the emperor, captures a beautiful male mandarin duck and shows it off to his court. The bird is locked in a cage and becomes sick from missing his mate. The ruler's kitchen maid named Yasuko, feels sorry for the duck and helps it escape. She tells a man named Shozo what she did and he keeps it a secret. Yasuko the woman & Shozo the man fall in love. The court gossiper notices ...more
Sep 29, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely splendid book, full of rich and colorfull detail and a story that is both simple and heartwarming. The pastel and watercolor illustrations that decorate this Japanese folktale are both gloriously beautiful and finely delicate. The pictures are done superbly in the traditional Japanese art style of Ukiyo-e, which the artists, Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon studied specifically for this book. I adored reading this story and being enveloped in it. Like Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of ...more
Mar 25, 2014 Kjsmit11 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: smith-grades-3-5
This complex picture book would be great to read aloud to students of all ages. The detailed illustrations give insight into the culture of the book. The storyline was easy to follow and the characters were well represented. As for a folklore, I do not believe that the message was portrayed well. There definitely was a message, but at the end, I think the author could have done a better joy of relaying it. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to teachers and students.
For my future
A long time ago, in the kingdom of Japan, there lived two mandarin ducks. The male duck has brilliantly colored feathers, but the female duck's feathers are very plain. The lord of the area where the ducks lived loved to have beautiful things around him, and when he went out hunting and saw the brilliant colors of the male duck, he ordered that the duck be captured and put in a cage, that the lord might look at him. In vain, the servants pleaded that the lord not capture the duck, but the lord h ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Carole rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-books-read
Japanese fairy tale of two Mandarin ducks who are setting up life together. The duck has found a place to have her nest; the drake goes out to get food for her and is captured by a rich man who admires his extraordinarily beautiful feathers. Capture does not do well for the drake, even with the offer of good food; he gradually fades and almost dies. Instead of having mercy, the rich man just wants him out of his sight. One of his servants frees the drake; when the rich man finds out about it, an ...more
Christina Fisher
When reading this book, adults and children alike will instantly be drawn into the beautiful imagery and Asian-inspired illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. This is the tale of a stunning mandarin duck that is captured for his beauty by an evil lord who wishes to show him off. Yasuko, the kitchen maid, and Shozo, the servant, agree to free the duck against the lord's evil wishes, which results in their death sentence. The mandarin duck decides to repay his friends with an act of wit and courag ...more
Beverly Kennett
I watched this on a Strega Nona DVD. The story involves an emperor who finds a beautiful wild duck and orders his servants to catch it for display in the castle. Since the duck is wild, it becomes ill in captivity and a servant girl eventually lets the bird go free. The emperor blames two sevants for the crime and sentences them to death. Their fate is changed by two messengers and they live happily ever after. It is implied that the messengers are the ghosts of the duck and his mate. I think th ...more
Inhabiting Books
When a Japanese lord sees the beautiful plumage of a male mandarin duck, he orders his capture. In captivity, the male pines for his mate and begins to die. Appalled at his plight, a maidservant sets the duck free, and she and the Lord's one-eyed steward are sentenced to death for their perfidy. Help comes from unexpected quarters, and the two disgraced servants must flee for their lives. Find out what happens next in this beautifully told and illustrated story of compassion, courage, heroism, a ...more
Aug 14, 2013 Katniss8112 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Great folk tale for everyone to read. It is very short and enjoyable. This book was wonderful. I read this because it was on the summer reading list for my grade this year. I wanted to read something short and folk tallish so I picked this one from the recommended list. I could have did many other books that were anywhere from 300 to 800 pages but instead I pick this one. Down to the last second before I started school I read it in ten minutes. It was also basic to review in a report. The illust ...more
Paterson--one of my favorite authors
the Dillons--some of my favorite illustrators

Match them together, and I'm sure to like the result. The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks is illustrated like Japanese woodcuts--the Dillons once again prove themselves adept at illustrating a different culture's stories! Palette--lovely.

The story is a retelling of a Japanese folktale, and it is a marvelous story that illustrates "you reap what you sow" (or, compassion is often rewarded).
Karen Banks
Beautiful book! It's part of our 6th grade curriculum and I used it in a demonstration lesson this week. Great for teaching the conventions of the genre as well as all the usual characteristics of literature in general. For writing, students were working on an argument for why this story was a folktale. Lots of other possibilities!
Tim Vandenberg
Jul 06, 2014 Tim Vandenberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful artwork. Quality story, though nothing massively noteworthy here. I'm a bit baffled as to why this was selected as a CCSS (Appendix B) recommended reading book, which as a very short list should only include the supremely best of this best....which this is not.

Recommended for sure. But it's just another high-quality picture book (mainly for its art).
H Gibson
Jun 01, 2016 H Gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm fond of all things Asian, especially Japanese, so Katherine Paterson's picture book, The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks, complete with artwork reminiscent of woodblock prints and paintings, was doubly pleasing for reading and viewing. The simple tale of kindness and generosity overcoming greed will be enjoyable for readers of any age.
Jan 24, 2015 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks
Paterson, Katherine
beautiful pictures, a wise tale of kindness returning to those who were kind. and a subplot of taking responsibility for someone else actions, and pride.
Sarah Bishopp Velez
Short and sweet, with a clearly defined "moral to the story" that is typical with folktales and fables. The story itself is nice enough, but I believe what really shines in this book are the illustrations, which are expertly drawn and colored to resemble Japanese woodcuts.
Steve Boman
Great pictures, and a story of a Japanese folktale that emphasizes kindness, compassion, and standing up for what is right. The final line leaves us with another important lesson: that is, "trouble can always be borne when it is shared."
Oct 16, 2014 Jessie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s
This is a book that brings me back to my childhood. I remember going back to it after a teacher read it in class because there were so few books that featured Asian characters and even though I wasn't Japanese, it still felt special to me.
Feb 26, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread 2/26/2015 A haunting love story about two servants who are punished for saving the life of a mandarin duck and are rewarded for their generosity. The stunning illustrations beautifully compliment this gently paced picture book.
Cynthia E Sherman
Apr 04, 2013 Cynthia E Sherman rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this folklore book. The illustrations are amazing. I loved the lesson within the storyline.
Mar 15, 2013 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another set of favorite illustrators! I love this story, and so did my children (rather surprisingly).
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I like this story because, as the author explains, mandarin ducks mate for life and are very loyal to each other. This is a charming tale with beautiful illustrations.
Feb 03, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I like the story, some of Yasuko's illustrations show her having really scraggly fingers which is creepy, and the greyish pallor of the old couple on the last page is kind of creepy too.
Oct 03, 2010 Moe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5th-grade
I enjoyed the illustrations, but it was kind of a boring folk tale with nothing really amazing about it.
Jane rated it it was amazing
Apr 22, 2011
Shanna rated it it was amazing
Jul 10, 2007
Heidi rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2015
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From author's website:

People are always asking me questions I don't have answers for. One is, "When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?" The fact is that I never wanted to be a writer, at least not when I was a child, or even a young woman. Today I want very much to be a writer. But when I was ten, I wanted to be either a movie star or a missionary. When I was twenty, I wanted t
More about Katherine Paterson...

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