The Seven Chinese Brothers

  • Title: The Seven Chinese Brothers
  • Author: Margaret Mahy
  • Illustrator: Jean and Mou-sien Tseng
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Publication year: 1990
  • Brief Summary: From Scholastic-“This ALA Notable Book tells the magical story of seven Chinese brothers who use their supernatural talents to overcome a powerful emperor, who exploits the hard work of the peasants at the Great Wall of China.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I did find this activity sheet in PDF from Carnegie Mellon University that could be used for a teacher or librarian. I think, once again, this another folktale from a different culture that can be used in conjunction with popular fairy tales like Cinderella or American tall tales like Paul Bunyan.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – The Tsengs illustrations are done in colorful watercolors and vivid pattern. Even though the author of this book, Mahy, is a white-woman, the text is only an accompaniment to the Tsengs illustrations. My favorite set of illustrations is the paneled illustrations showing the Fifth Brother and his legs growing in each body of water the Emperor forces him in. I think this version of The Seven Chinese Brothers is remarkably less stereotypical than the version by Claire Huchet Bishop done in 1964.

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