Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lon Po Po

A. Title: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China

B. Author: Ed Young

C. Illustrator: Ed Young

D. Publisher: Penguin Putnam Books/ Philomel Books

E. Genre: Picture Book/Folktale

F. Reading Level: k-3

G. Awards: Caldecott Award Winner

H. Summary: The story of Lon Po Po is the Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood. There are a lot of similarities, but also a lot of differences. A mother and her three daughters lived out in the countryside, and one day the mother left to go visit the children's grandmother for her birthday. A clever wolf lived in the woods nearby and saw the mother leave. That night the wolf dressed up, knocked on the door, and claimed to be the three little girls' grandmother, Po Po. At first the children were deceived and aloud the impostor Po Po to come inside. Then, while in bed, the children noticed the wolf's bushy tail and its' sharp claws. The children figured out that their Po Po was actually the wolf and tricked it! They ran outside to get a nut from the gingko tree, which they told the wolf with one taste you could live forever. The three little girls climbed all the way up the tree and convinced the wolf to get a basket, throw a rope over the highest tree branch, and create a pulley system for them to lift their "Po Po" to the nuts. At first, the eldest tried to pull "Po Po" up, but half way up she dropped the wolf saying she was too weak. Next, two of the sisters pulled the wolf up in the basket even higher than the first time, but again, they were too weak to pull the wolf all the way up. The wolf was growing very angry, but all he could think about was the gingko nut and living forever. Finally, all three sisters pulled the wolf up all the way to the top of the tree and dropped him to his death. When the mother arrived home the next, the children told her all about how they had outsmarted the impostor Po Po. The illustrations are done in pastels and water color, and each page varies on the spread layout (panel layout).

I. Response: I have always really enjoyed myths, fairy tales, and folk tales, which is why I think I enjoyed Lon Po Po so much. Little Red Riding Hood is such a common tale that you're sure to hear it if you grow up in the United States! Many of my friends said that they read this Chinese version during their elementary school days, but I was not so lucky. I love the similarities between the two stories, but I have to admit that I like Lon Po Po better than Little Red Riding Hood. The thing that I like the most about it is the creative way the young children outsmart the wolf. Just like Red Riding Hood, the children in Lon Po Po are smart enough to realize that the wolf is not their grandmother, but the Lon Po Po characters go even further and trick the wolf. The illustrations are just amazing. I am a big fan of the way pastels can be combined, rubbed, and molded into unique colors specific to the story it's telling. The color choices are bright, fun, and really compliment the natural settings that they depict.

J. Teaching Ideas: After reading Lon Po Po, I had a few vague ideas for lesson plans right off the top of my head: comparing/contrasting America's folk tales to those of other countries, and teaching Chinese culture. Once I started to look online I found resource after resource for Lon Po Po; this is definitely a book I would suggest using in a lesson plan because of the number of lesson plan opportunities it presents. Right away I found three great lesson plans: TeacherVision lesson plan, UVM (Vermont) lesson plan, and a scholastic lesson plan. The first lesson plan has five great ideas for incorporating this book into the lesson plan including creating a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting Lon Po Po to Little Red Riding Hood, creative connections for art, social studies, and math, discussing the book from the wolf's point of view and creating another character to present the story from their view point, Chinese inventions word search (have students find out what products/inventions they've used from China), and reproducing Chinese symbols. The UVM website has a lesson plan that includes discussing what the story tells about the culture it's from, how do Lon Po Po and Little Red Riding Hood compare, etc. The Scholastic lesson plan allows children to have a discussion about which story they liked better and why, explore the aspects and create panel art, and appreciating the vocabulary in the Chinese version such as "Hei yo."

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