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The Crane Girl

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Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award
Winner of the 2017 Freeman Book Award for East and Southeast Asian children’s literature
A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
An Evanston Public Library Best Book of the Year
A Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Book of the Year

While gathering firewood, Yasuhiro comes upon an injured crane hidden in the snow. He rescues and comforts the bird, then watches it fly away. The next night, a mysterious young girl arrives at Yasuhiro's home seeking shelter from the cold. The boy and his father welcome the girl, named Hiroko, to stay with them. But when Hiroko notices that Yasuhiro's father is struggling to earn money, she offers to weave silk for him to sell. After the fabric fetches a good price, the boy's father becomes impatient for more silk, and his greed has a life-changing effect on them all. Lyrical storytelling deftly interwoven with original haiku create a magical adaptation of popular Japanese folktales--an inspirational story of friendship and the power of kindness to transform lives.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2017

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About the author

Curtis Manley

7 books52 followers
I write for young people of all ages and strive to create fun books with facts about the world around us and truths about the worlds within.


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5 stars
87 (40%)
4 stars
89 (41%)
3 stars
36 (16%)
2 stars
3 (1%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 57 reviews
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,339 reviews350 followers
March 5, 2017
About: The Crane Girl is a Japanese folktales and children’s picture book written by Curtis Manley and illustrated by Lin Wang. It was published on 3/1/17 by Shen’s Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books Inc, hardcover, 40 pages. This book is for ages 7 to 8, grades 1 to 4. Lee & Low Books is the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in USA. Their mission is “to publish contemporary diverse stories that all children could enjoy”.

My Experience: I started reading The Crane Girl on 2/28/17 and again on 3/2/17 as a bedtime story for my 5 year-old son and we finished it that same night. This book is such a lovely read! I have never read a Japanese fairytales before and I am super excited to read it for my son. We love the story and the beautiful illustrations. We love the magic twist with the boy at the end of the book. Besides the crane folktales, this book also introduces Haiku, well-known form of Japanese poetry. It runs alongside the story. I like to read the Haiku separately from the story.

In this book, readers will follow Yasuhiro (yah-soo-hee-roh), a boy out gathering firewood for his dad when he notices an injured red-crowned crane and gently rescues it. When a girl, Hiroko (hee-roh-koh) shows up the next day looking for shelter, Yasuhiro and his dad welcomes her in. Yasuhiro and his dad are poor and so the girl, Hiroko offers to weave silk to raise money so that they can have enough to eat. When the money is easily earned, Yasuhiro’s dad becomes greedy and demands for more. The girl asks Yasuhiro and his dad to promise not to open the door until she finishes weaving the silk, but the dad grows impatient and opens to discover a surprise. I love that this book introduces friendship, kindness, greed, the obligation to repay, and a little magic. I highly recommend the read to everyone.

Pro: Japanese folktales, friendship, kindness, retelling, illustrations, Asian oriented, magic

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Lee & Low Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please assured that my opinions are honest.

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Set.
1,566 reviews
April 2, 2018
This is a beautiful Japanese Folk Tale about the friendship between a crane girl and a village boy. It teaches about how people change though greed and how laziness doesn't produce happiness.
Profile Image for J & J .
190 reviews59 followers
May 26, 2018
Nice combination of haiku and folktale.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.2k reviews277 followers
March 4, 2017
In various collections of Japanese folktales, I've read different versions of the story of a crane whose life was saved by a human and then the crane repaid that kindness in some way. In this lovely adaptation of those stories, Yasuhiro frees a crane whose foot is held fast in a trap. Not only does he stop gathering firewood to help the creature, but he also comforts it before it flies away. Strangely, the next night, a girl named Hiroko arrives, seeking shelter. Yasushiro's father, Ryota, agrees to take her in as long as she works hard. When she decides to weave silk for him to sell in the market, he is delighted by its exquisite quality. But Ryota isn't satisfied with the money it brings, and becomes greedy and interested in drinking with his friends. Each time Hiroko meets Ryota's demands, but with a heavy price on her health and her heart. Finally, she leaves the family, but in a perfect twist, Yasushiro decides to join her. There are many messages about choices, relationships, greed, and rewards in this story, complemented with the most exquisite watercolor illustrations. The story itself is well told, but the author has chosen to add haiku representing each of the characters, which adds another layer of interest to the story since readers are able to hear their thoughts and feel their emotions. I am so grateful to publishers who continue to make sure folk tales are being read by young readers.
Profile Image for Saleh MoonWalker.
1,801 reviews275 followers
June 16, 2017
داستان های فولک ژاپنی زیادی راجع به یک درنا هست که توسط یه انسان نجات داده میشه. نویسنده توی این داستان روایت درنایی رو میکنه توسط یه انسان نجات داده میشه که کار خودش رو رها کردش تا اون حیوان رو نجات بده و بعدش هم کمی بهش آرامش داد و بعد اجازه داد که بره. داستان با یه چرخش جالب به جایی میرسه که در نهایت همون درنا به یاسوهیرو کمک میکنه تا از شرایط موفق بیرون بیاد. داستانیه که حرص، طمع، انتخاب و نتیجه انتخاب رو جالب به تصویر میکشه.
Profile Image for Cheryl M-M.
1,824 reviews48 followers
July 16, 2017
(Illustrations by Lin Wang)

This is the kind of book I buy for my children, but secretly it will be for myself, because I adore beautiful books. The illustrations are alluring, so much so that they often overshadow the actual written story.

This is a lyrical version of a well-known Japanese folk-tale. The moral of the story is one found in fairy and folk-tales all around the world. Greed destroys all and makes even the kindest person forget the things they once held dear. They say money can corrupt even the most upright citizen, and that everyone has a price.

One day Yasuhiro comes upon a crane caught in a trap. He comforts and frees the bird. Not long after a young girl called Hiroko appears on his doorstep and Yasuhiro gives her shelter. In return for the help Hiroko helps Yasuhiro’s father by weaving silk behind closed doors every night. Soon he wants more than she is willing to give.

This is about friendship and random acts of kindness. A smile, a helping hand or perhaps just a moment of your time to help another living being. It’s important that we don’t lose our sense of humanity in the midst of all the indifference, violence and conflict.

The Crane Girl is nice way to teach our children and remind ourselves that we can and should help others without expecting anything in return.
*I received an ARC courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss*
Profile Image for Edward Sullivan.
Author 5 books203 followers
March 9, 2017
A beautifully told, lyrically written version of a familiar Japanese folktale. Interspersed haiku revealing the characters' unspoken thoughts adds a lovely dimension to the story. Elegantly illustrated with watercolor art.
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews109 followers
March 14, 2017
Yasuhiro discovered an injured crane caught in a trap and freed it, the crane pressing its red crest to his cheek before flying away. The next night a girl came to his home where he lived with his father. She asked to stay with them and work for them. His father, Ryota, agreed to let her stay though they aren’t rich and have little to share. The girl, Hiroko, noticed the loom in one of the rooms and was told that it belonged to Yasuhiro’s mother who had died. Hiroko offered to weave silk for them to sell as long as they never opened the door while she was working. They agreed. She soon returned with fine silk that Ryota was able to sell for a nice sum, enough to stop him from having to look for work for awhile. Soon though, he needed more silk and then still more, faster and faster each time. As the demands grew, Hiroko was unable to recover between weavings, making each time take longer and longer. When Ryota finally opened the door, there was Hiroko as a crane, weaving on the loom and using her own feathers. Hiroko finished the weaving and then flew off, but it was up to Yasuhiro to decide what life he was going to choose going forward.

This picture book version is based on several versions of the traditional Japanese crane folktales. One theme in these stories is the concept of a debt that needs to be repaid. This version has a father who plays the impatient villain in the story, allowing real love to blossom and grow between the human boy and the crane girl. The writing here is superb. It is simple enough to be shared aloud well and yet rich enough that the story really comes to life. Manley uses haiku inserted throughout to speak the characters’ deepest feelings that they don’t share aloud in the story. This use of brief poetry embraces the Japanese setting of the tales in another way, enriching them further.

The illustrations are enchanting. They have a light to them, one that shines from the silk the girl creates and emanates from her body and feathers. Done in watercolor, they are filled with fine details, small touches of steam rising from a teapot and snow on shoulders draw readers further in.

A rich retelling of the Japanese crane folktale, this version offers great writing combined with wonderful illustrations. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Profile Image for Linda .
3,777 reviews43 followers
April 11, 2017
In the author’s note, Curtis Manley gives a wonderful description of the many approaches to this fairy tale, most loved in Japan. He shares: An important theme in all these versions is the Japanese concept of “on”--an obligation that must be repaid.” Also, there is a good description of haiku and its variations. The story Manley has told in a unique fashion, an end that may surprise, heart-breaking to the mean father, perhaps, but a happy ending for those in love. It is a gorgeous story he has told made even more beautiful by the incredible paintings by Lin Wang. They show well the love and compassion of the key players, the greedy ways of the father, and the heartbreak that comes close to ending sadly. Although I know the basic story, each page’s action made me want to hurry to what was next. It’s a new version in 2017, one to look for!
Profile Image for Whole And.
979 reviews5 followers
August 15, 2017
A Japanese tale of friendship, suffering and the transformative power of love interwoven with poetry and gorgeous illustrations, this book will leave you stirred from sorrow and love. Initially we set out to find stories about cranes while learning the art of origami and found this magical tale among the 'how to's'. A beautiful read.
Profile Image for skketch.
582 reviews11 followers
April 24, 2017
An inspiring story for young children about caring and giving to others set in Japan. When a young man rescues a crane from a trap, he doesn't know how the miracle of his kindness will help his own family. The story also introduces the young reader to the beauty of haiku as well.
Profile Image for Maria Marshall.
362 reviews69 followers
March 24, 2017
I appreciate the stoke of genius, as well as the talent and hard work required for Curtis Manley to sprinkle haiku poems, throughout the retelling of this Japanese folktale, to illuminate the character's thoughts. Although a form of poetry uniquely Japanese, it provides tantalizing ideas of ways to use it, or other poetic devises, to accomplish character development in other fractured or retold tales. The traditional elements of the repayment of a kindness, a greedy man, and the breaking of a promise remain, even though Curtis changes the main character of the folktale to a child. This alteration, allows Curtis to highlight kindness and friendship to both other humans and animals, rather than focusing primarily on a adult's greed and broken promise. Lin Wang's illustrations are luminescent and enhance the tale's new ending. Additionally, the illustrations expose children to the differences in traditional Japanese dress, housing, and art. Overall, it is a very special, diverse book.
Profile Image for Selena.
1,857 reviews245 followers
December 16, 2019
Based on various folktales from Japan about cranes, The Crane Girl is a beautifully illustrated children's book about a young man who saves a crane and has the favor repaid by a mysterious girl who weaves him and his greedy father cloth. I just wish that fewer pages were spent drawing Ryota, the father, and more were spent on the girl and the crane.
3,235 reviews28 followers
March 22, 2017
Beautiful retelling of an old tale with a twist. Lovely story; beautiful illustrations.
Profile Image for Earl.
3,646 reviews38 followers
June 24, 2017
A retelling of a Japanese folk tale which the author made totally his own incorporating haikus from each character's perspective into the original narrative text.

The back matter is full of information about Haiku clubs, the variations of the story, as well as the different kinds of Japanese poetry most people would probably lump together as just haiku.
Profile Image for Jana.
2,592 reviews38 followers
May 27, 2017
I won a signed copy of this beautifully illustrated picture book from GoodReads, and what a wonderful gift it was. This adaptation of a Japanese folk story tells the tale of a boy who rescues a crane that is caught in a trap. Later, a girl shows up at his door and she needs a place to stay. She weaves a beautiful cloth for the boy and his father to help them make money. But then greed overtakes the father and he demands more and more. The book is illustrated with breathtaking paintings and has great themes of kindness, friendship, and greed. It also has haiku poetry throughout the pages and a fascinating author's note about folk tales and poetry at the end.
9,847 reviews24 followers
February 14, 2018
A beautiful and in depth retelling of a Japanese Folktale about a rescued crane, a poor family, and a lost girl. elementary and up for length.
Profile Image for D. Field.
82 reviews
October 9, 2017
I really enjoy folklore/fairy tales and found this telling of Crane Girl beautiful and the illustrations very well done.
Profile Image for Laura.
209 reviews12 followers
October 6, 2017
With beautiful illustrations, and peppered with short poems, this is a shining illustration of a classic Japanese folk tale. While I don't think this will translate to younger audiences, I think it would be great for elementary students beginning their studies of poetry or folktales.
Profile Image for Tiff.
747 reviews
November 10, 2017
Such beauty. I thought it was going to be a tragic ending but it wasn't. What a relief. A beautiful crane is saved by a boy, so she transforms into a girl to be with the boy; and she weaves priceless silk that the father sells yet whittles the money right away. Wang's watercolor illustrations are breathtaking and Manley's haiku poems create such a lyrical and surreal component to the picture book. Exquisite!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
529 reviews2 followers
August 1, 2017
Beautiful illustrations. The story is told mainly in prose, but with haiku added in. The hauku doesn't interrupt the flow of the story, rather it adds richness to it.
Profile Image for Niki Marion.
424 reviews3 followers
August 30, 2017
Ethereal illustrations, original haikus, and illuminating back matter make this retelling of a Japanese folk tale an engaging read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 57 reviews

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