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Kogi's Mysterious Journey Hardcover – October 13, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4-In medieval Japan, an artist longs to capture the spectacular natural surroundings and diverse wildlife of Lake Biwa. No matter how hard Kogi tries, his paintings always seem to lie stiff and dead upon the paper. Seeking an ineffable quality he cannot seem to achieve, he wades into the water and finds himself transformed into a golden carp. For days, Kogi revels in the delicious freedom of swimming in the great lake. Unfortunately, he becomes hungry, and though his human mind knows better, he takes a baited hook and soon finds himself lying below a cook's knife. Sogabe uses a solid black spread, shot with a red line that looks like exploding barbed wire, to show the moment of Kogi's piscine death. The painter wakes to find that his wandering spirit has returned to his human body. His dream opens floodgates of creativity and now his paintings are endowed with energy and vitality. Partridge's spare, poetic recasting of a Japanese folktale ends with the artist and his creations coming to life again as fish. Dignified and handsome, Sogabe's carefully composed cut-paper art employs muted colors to bring Kogi's inner and outer worlds to life. An informative source note traces the history of the story. This enticing version of a Japanese tale stands out as a compelling read-aloud.
Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1 edition (October 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525470786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525470786
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.4 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,861,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Partridge graduated with a degree in Women's Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and later studied traditional Chinese medicine. She was an acupuncturist for more than twenty years before closing her medical practice to write full-time.

Elizabeth is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including Marching to Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don't You Grow Weary, as well as biographies of Dorothea Lange, Woody Guthrie, and John Lennon. Partridge has also written several photo biographies for adults. Her books have received many honors, including National Book Award Finalist, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Michael L. Printz Honor, and the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. Elizabeth is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shanshad VINE VOICE on June 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Japanese folk tales fall along many different themes, but one of them I've come across in the most often is the theme of the individual consumed by their art, or craft. Kogi's Mysteriouis Journey is a tale of this sort, about the painter Kogie and his determination to capture the life and beauty of the fish he sees in the lake. His "journey" is both outward and inward, discovering the seed of his art and how to master it. This lovely little book isn't going to be a classic on everyone's list, but I first picked it up for the stunning artwork, and I stayed for the story.

Kogie is trying to paint the landscape of the lake where he lives and the life he can perceive upon it and within it, but every time he tries, something is missing from his work. When his fisherman friend, Basho, gives him a dead fish to draw, Kogi rapidly realizes he can't draw the essence of life from looking at a dying or dead creature. His need to draw the fish free and alive, sends him wading into the lake, and there he transforms magically into a huge golden carp. Trapped in fish form, Kogi spends days trying to find enough to eat, until despite his human intelligence, he bites a baited hook. Caught by his friend, Basho, Kogi finds himself dying in the air and sun, unable to cry out or tell his friend who he is. Ultimately he is sliced open by the fisherman's knife. Kogie wakes up in his own bed, as though it was all a dream. But this dream has put Kogi in touch with the true essence of being a fish, and now he can draw all kinds of life-like fish, so lively they leap off the paper and into the water to swim away. In the end, Kogi joins them once more as a great golden carp.

The story shows how the artist becomes the art he creates, transformed by the pursuit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christina D. on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Kogi has a problem. He's an artist who can't convey emotion. He sits by Lake Biwa painting sunsets and fish, trees and water, but all his sunsets are flat and all his fish are lifeless. Kogi thinks he'll find the inspiration he needs when he becomes the proud owner of a fish from Lake Biwa, but when he puts his catch in a pool, he realizes he can never understand the essence of a fish in captivity. On the banks of Lake Biwa, Kogi releases the fish. But as he wades into the water, Kogi's good deed turns into a supernatural event when he is transformed into a golden fish. Elizabeth Partridge's Kogi's Mysterious Journey (Dutton Children's Book, 2003) follows Kogi's as he tries out his fins in Lake Biwa. As Kogi slips through the murky water, he begins to understand the freedom that fish feel as they swim. Since the conflict appears to be Kogi's lack of artistic inspiration, the reader expects Kogi to use his experiences as a fish to fuel his creativity. While he does produce art after he gets his legs back, the ending will disappoint those readers who hoped to see Kogi gaining a complete understanding of how to make his art emotionally effective. That aspect of Kogi's character is completely glossed over at the end of the book. Partridge's story is based on a real Japanese legend, and the illustrations by Aki Sogabe, which mimic the style of ancient Japanese paintings, add much deserved mystery and weight to this centuries-old tale. Despite the ending, this book would be a good introduction to Japanese culture, and the colorful illustrations will captivate both children and adults.
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Format: Hardcover
Kogi is a Japanese painter who finds flaws in his painting, but continues to paint relentlessly and eventually perfects his art and becomes his painting.
Elizabeth Partridge's story KOGI'S MYSTERIOUS JOURNEY may seem overly fantastic to some readers when the story arcs and presents Kogi, a painter-man-tuned-fish who survives his friend's chopping board and boiling pot to regain his human form. Nonetheless, Partridge's story is pleasant and has a unique premise of perseverance. Kogi, the painter must capture emotion and life in his work. He paints relentlessly and even tosses his work in frustration, but ultimately his work becomes flawless because he is dedicated. Sogabe's illustrations add intrigue to Partridge's story because Sogabe's fishes are elegant and full of warm colors. Sogabe's illustrations remain subtle and soothing throughout Partridge's book and having a view of Asian customs adds intrigue to this story. The perseverance in this book is a timeless attribute of life that kids and adults can embrace.
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