From Library Journal
Grade 2-4-Gilchrist has clearly done substantial research for this collection of folktales from countries along the ancient trade route. She has uncovered so much information to supplement the folklore that she includes an introduction; a character called the "Spirit of the Silk Road," whose two-page spiels preface each individual story; and two pages of facts at the end of the book. The result is a collection of seven tales, somewhat weighted down by the burden of explanatory matter. The stories themselves are unusual enough that libraries with large folklore collections or with a strong interest in Asia may want to purchase this title. A few of the selections are reminiscent of European or American variants. "Clever Ashik" is similar to the riddle-solving "Clever Gretchen" and the wish-granting "Magic Saddlebag" is like Jack's magic tablecloth in "Jack and the Northwest Wind." Other tales are more culture specific, such as "Monkey and the River Dragon" from China or "A Rainbow in Silk" from Uzbekistan. Gilchrist's writing is bland, showing little variation as she moves from people to people. Mistry's gouache paintings illuminate the costumes, architecture, and terrain along the way. An additional purchase.Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In seven stories, the lively Spirit of the Silk Road takes readers through the culture, history, and folklore of the ancient trade route that stretched from China to Persia and was used from 200 B.C. to the fourteenth century. The retellings, from humorous to creepy, feature an assortment of kind and vengeful gods, spirits, animals, and human travelers. "Clever Ashik" illustrates how cultures adapt and recreate familiar stories; "The Magic Saddlebag," a morality tale, shows the rewards of generosity and kindness; "The Enchanted Garden" presents a nightmarish experience resulting from greed. The conversational tone of the tellings evokes a tourist's sight-seeing expedition, with brightly colored, intricately patterned illustrations of exotic places and characters providing visuals and context. An introduction gives general background about the Silk Road and traded goods; endpaper maps detail the route. A "Did You Know?" facts section and source notes are appended. This will be a good resource for storytellers, particularly those wanting material for international story times, and for individuals interested in Asian folklore. Shelle Rosenfeld