Cover image for The crystal heart : a Vietnamese legend
The crystal heart : a Vietnamese legend
Shepard, Aaron.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
The sheltered and privileged daughter of a mandarin comes to understand the consequences of her naive, yet cruel, words to a fisherman.
Reading Level:
400 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.8 0.5 25862.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.2 2 Quiz: 26891 Guided reading level: L.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.S53945 CR 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
PZ8.1.S53945 CR 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.S53945 CR 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales

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Mi Nuong, the daughter of a great mandarin, hears an enchanting song from a singer who may be the man she is destined to marry. It is only that man and his lovely song that can cure Mi Nuong when she becomes ill. Written in elegant prose and visually told with stunning illustrations, this story from Vietnam reveals the power of expectations--and of words. Full color.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5-8. The author of numerous retellings of traditional tales (most recently Master Maid: A Tale of Norway [1997]) offers this legend from Vietnam. Mi Nuong, the sheltered daughter of a wealthy mandarin, hears a man's beautiful voice and assumes he is singing to her. Truong Chi, a humble fisherman, is summoned to Mi Nuong's house and falls in love with her, but she laughs thoughtlessly at him because he is neither young nor handsome. His heart turns to crystal, and after his death, the tears of a now repentant Mi Nuong finally set his spirit free. Shepard's simple yet elegant prose meshes well with Fiedler's dramatic artwork. Featuring a palette of earth tones accented with red and blue, the paintings have a traditional feel, and the rice paper-style endpapers complement the classic look. A good choice for storytellers, this romantic tale will be popular with a wide range of audiences. (Reviewed October 1, 1998)0689815514Kay Weisman

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.