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The Crystal Heart: A Vietnamese Legend Hardcover – September 1, 1998

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Lexile Measure: 400L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum; 1st ed edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689815514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689815515
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.4 x 11.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,539,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this haunting tale of unrequited love, a mandarin's beautiful daughter hears the "deep and sweet" voice of an unseen fisherman as he sings, and imagines him to be a mandarin's son in disguise. The girl pines away for him until the bewildered singer?dressed in rags and stinking of fish?is brought before her. When she sees him, she laughs at her own folly; the fisherman, however, has instantly fallen in love with her, and her laughter causes him to die of heartbreak. His heart becomes a crystal, which winds up a teacup for the mandarin's daughter; she sees in her tea the fisherman's sad eyes and repents of her thoughtlessness. Shepard (The Sea King's Daughter) paces his polished storytelling to accommodate atmospheric details (e.g., the girl sits on a bench by a moon-shaped window), although the ending feels hurried by comparison. Debut artist Fiedler reinforces the weight of the prose with densely hued paintings of almost theatrical tableaux: the girl lies listlessly on her bed, enveloped in a mosquito net that almost looks like a light flowing over her; the crystal heart glows as it is placed in the fisherman's empty boat. Despite the Vietnamese setting, this sophisticated story has much in common with Hans Christian Andersen's sorrowful romances, and its words and images will likely linger with readers. Ages 6-9.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-In this attractive retelling of a folktale from Vietnam, a young maiden of the privileged mandarin class comes to understand the results of her heartless behavior toward a poor fisherman. From her tower room overlooking the Red River, Mi Nuong hears a beautifully sung melody float up from a fishing boat. She fantasizes that the singer is young and handsome and perhaps the mandarin destined to marry her. When an old man in ragged clothes is finally brought before her, she laughs and closes the door on him-but not before he is smitten with love. He returns home to die, his wounded heart turning to crystal from the pain of her laughter. Friends set the crystal heart adrift in his boat, where Mi Nuong's father finds it and has it made into a teacup. Drinking from it, the young woman sees the fisherman's face and again hears his haunting melody. One of her tears falls into the cup, thereby releasing his soul. Fiedler's textured, impressionistic oil paintings are as spare and elegant as Shepard's retelling. Except for two double spreads, the illustrations are framed in white and placed opposite the text, which is handsomely set within ample white margins. The palette is generally subdued yet bursts forth with luminous reds and oranges, from something as small as the father's belt to the brilliant blood-orange sweep of the Red River. The art shows a significant Chinese influence. A fine selection for reading aloud or savoring alone.
Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "suongngocn" on September 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Being a beautiful daughter of a wealthy mandarin, My Nuong had always been staying in her great house with the servants and surrounded herself with richness. But, she was very unhappy for she often felt lonely and had no friend to share her feeling with. One day, she heard a lovely piece of music which come from a bamboo flute of a fisherman name Truong Chi from the nearby sea. The music was so mesmerizing that it has capture her heart immidiately. She never felt anything like this and she has began thinking of it as "true love". Although she had never know of the fisherman's face, she has made a promise of giving him her hand in marriage. For some reason, the fisherman did not come to the sea to play the music anymore and this affect My Nuong deeply. She is very upseting and start to misses the music which make her now very ill. Her father try to find doctors who could cure her of this illness but none succeed. When My Nuong told him about the man and the music she had fall in love with, he sent for Truong Chi. But fate had been cruel to them for at the moment she look at him, she was disgust with his ugliness that she hated him. Truong Chi, with the first time saw My Nuong, had fall in love with her too. But My Nuong cast him away and being too heart-broken, Truong Chi died of a silent death. His heart had magically become crystal and unknowingly, My Nuong had carved it into a beautiful cup to use when drinking tea. But somehow, My Nuong heard the same music of Truong chi from the crystal cup and she had cry in regrets and sorrow for the unfortunate fisherman. Her tears roll down into the cup and had broking the seal which set Truong Chi's soul free. Such a loving story and a must-read one that no one could forget but thinking of it always. Love come from heart not appearances just as this story tells us.
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More About the Author

Aaron Shepard is the award-winning author of numerous children's books, as well as books on reader's theater, children's writing, and publishing. He lives with his wife and fellow author, Anne L. Watson, in Friday Harbor, Washington.