From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5?An elderly couple in ancient Japan long for a child. Their wish is granted when they find a huge peach that opens to reveal a baby inside. Momotaro grows rapidly and soon is strong enough to challenge the evil oni that prey on his community. Three companions, each with separate strengths, join the hero on his quest: a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant. While Smith's illustrations, imitating traditional Japanese watercolor sketches, are compelling, the accompanying text is overlong and sometimes stilted. One variant detail here, found in no other English versions, results in a serious lapse in plotting. Another generates a full-page picture of a fortress of skulls and bones, as if horned red and blue ogres?standard in every version?are not grotesque enough. Without a source note, the origin of these odd inclusions remains a mystery. Linda Shute's Momotaro (Lothrop, 1986) is a better choice for group read-alouds, as is Gail Sakurai's Peach Boy (Troll, 1994). The authentic and engaging illustrations in both books interpret the story's dramatic action more appropriately for a younger audience. Eric Quayle's The Shining Princess and Other Japanese Legends (Arcade, 1989) contains a strong, graceful retelling for older children. Not a first purchase.?Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.