The Funny Little Woman

CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1973

The Funny Little Woman

Arlene Mosel, author

Blair Lent, illustrator

New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972

36 pp.

Age: 3+

Interests: folktales, Japan, cooking, magic, caves

A traditional Japanese tale of a little woman who is always laughing (tee-he-he-he). One day she is making rice dumplings when one rolls down through a crack in the floor. She follows it down into a strange underground cavern lined with statues of the gods, who warn her not to follow the dumpling. She  giggles and goes after it anyway. She is soon captured by evil oni – horned, three-eyed ogres who put her to work cooking for them. After a time she steals their magic cooking paddle and escapes in a boat. The oni drink up the water to stop her, but she looks so funny stuck in the mud that they laugh… letting the water flow back into the stream so she is able to get away. Back home with the magic paddle she can make a whole pot of rice from just one grain, and goes into business, becoming the richest woman in Japan. Tee-he-he!

A funny little story with an irrepressible heroine. The illustrations capture her giggly spirit, and it helps that even when she’s captured she laughs instead of being frightened. I also like that the top part of the page shows what’s going on above-ground while her adventures underground are happening. Little ones will like all the ‘tee-he-heeing’.

(This title on amazon.)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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