Tompert, A., & Parker, R. A. (ill.) (1990). Grandfather Tang’s story: A tale told with tangrams. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN: 9780517885581
Annotation: A grandfather tells his granddaughter a Chinese folk tale about shape changing foxes and uses tangrams to help illustrate.
Reaction: I picked this book up because the idea of a “tale told with tangrams” was really intriguing. It wasn’t until I started reading that I realized I was confusing tangrams, which are different pictures made with the same seven pieces of a single puzzle, with anagrams, which are different words made out of other words.
The story is a fun folk tale about two fox fairies who have a shape changing contest that almost ends in tragedy, and Grandfather Tang uses his tangrams to illustrate all the different shapes they become. I really enjoy the folk/fairy tales from other cultures, especially non-Western ones, since their traditions are so different, but also not really that different at all. And this one has the fun added element of the tangrams.
The art is loose and impressionistic and has an Asian flavor to it, sort of reminiscent of Chinese brush paintings. The colors are muted, giving the illustrations a feeling of age.
This book would be great to introduce kids to some Chinese folklore and tangrams. I remember other kids playing with them in school, but for some reason I never did. I think it would be a fun activity for a class or family to read this story together and then make their own tangrams stories.
Media Used: None listed, but it looks like pencil and watercolors.
Author’s Website: None
Illustrator’s Website: None