Cover image for The crane wife
The crane wife
Bodkin, Odds.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A retelling of the traditional Japanese tale about a poor sail maker who gains a beautiful but mysterious wife skilled at weaving magical sails.
General Note:
"Gulliver books."
Reading Level:
AD 320 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.2 0.5 29784.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.3 2 Quiz: 21906 Guided reading level: M.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.B58835 CR 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.B58835 CR 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.B58835 CR 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.B58835 CR 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.B58835 CR 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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When Osamu, a lonely sail maker, nurses an injured crane one blustery night, he never suspects that this simple act of kindness will change his life forever. Weeks later a mysterious woman arrives on his doorstep, seeking shelter from a storm. Osamu again offers his help, and soon the sail maker and the stranger fall in love and marry. But when he learns of his wife's gift for making magic sails, ambition replaces compassion--and Osamu risks losing the great happiness he has found. With majestic paintings and lyrical prose, this classic Japanese tale speaks to readers of all ages with its timeless lessons on the nature of kindness, love, and betrayal.

Author Notes

ODDS BODKIN is an acclaimed storyteller, composer, and teacher of the art of storytelling. He lives in New Hampshire. GENNADY SPIRIN has illustrated numerous books, which have been published in both his native Europe and the United States. He lives in New Jersey."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-9. In this familiar Japanese folktale, a poor sailmaker named Osamu nurses an injured crane back to life. Later, a beautiful woman appears at his door during a storm and stays to become his wife. When food runs short, she makes Osamu promise not to look at her as she disappears behind a screen and weaves a magical sail. Their food runs low again, and he encourages her to weave another sail, though the task takes all her energy. The third time, she warns that "it is my very self they take," but she secludes herself and begins to weave. When Osamu breaks his promise and looks behind the screen, he sees the crane at the loom, weaving her feathers into the sail. She flies away, never to return. Bodkin, a storyteller whose audiotape The Blossom Tree contains his first retelling of the tale, provides a vivid, accessible text for this picture book. Capturing the tale's mystery and tragedy, Spirin's watercolor-and-gouache paintings take their inspiration from Japanese art. Delicate shades of tawny gray and burnished gold predominate in the illustrations, which place the human drama against a background of nature that is changeable, mysterious, and hauntingly beautiful. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Medieval Japan provides the backdrop for the classic tale of a sail maker who nurses a wounded crane to health. "Bodkin's finely tuned version abounds with drama and emotion in its rich presentation of morals, and near-perfect pacing sets the stage for the pathos of the ending," said PW in a starred review. "Spirin's compositions, filled with Japanese motifs and period details, cast an otherworldly mood." Ages 5-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-In ancient Japan, a lonely sail maker, Osamu, opens his door during a storm to find a wounded crane. He cares for it, then sets it free. Another storm brings him a beautiful young woman seeking shelter. She becomes his wife. Seeing his poverty, Yukiko offers to weave a magic sail, but warns him not to look at her while she works. When Osamu sells the sail, he realizes that she has woven the wind into it. He becomes greedy and demands more. As Yukiko reluctantly works on a third sail, he runs behind her concealing screen to find a crane weaving its feathers into the loom. Her secret revealed, the crane wife flies away, and Osamu waits in vain for her return. The illustrations in this opulent picture book depicts the world of Japanese block prints in an idiom reminiscent of Russian lacquer art. The paintings, executed in muted rusts and greens, are strong in composition but weaker in illuminating emotion. The double-page spreads vary in layout, consisting of a blending of text and picture, all text set against the same border of clouds and a loom, or all artwork. Katherine Paterson's translation of Sumiko Yagawa's The Crane Wife (Morrow, 1981; o.p.) offers a more dramatic and economical narrative, with watercolors by Suekichi Akaba that portray setting and character with more authority. Libraries owning that version might want this new one for comparison; others may buy it to fill a need for Japanese folktales.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.