Cover image for The shell woman & the king : a Chinese folktale
The shell woman & the king : a Chinese folktale
Yep, Laurence, 1948-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, [1993]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
To save herself and her husband from an evil king, Shell agrees to bring him three wonders.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.Y46 SH 1993 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.Y46 SH 1993 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.Y46 SH 1993 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.Y46 SH 1993 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.Y46 SH 1993 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Author Notes

Laurence Yep was born in San Francisco, California on June 14, 1948. He graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1970 and received a Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He primarily writes fiction for young adults, but has also written and edited several works for adults. His first novel, Sweetwater, was published in 1973. His other books include Dragonwings, Dragon's Gate, Shadow Lord, Child of the Owl, The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island. He has won numerous awards for his work including the Newbery Medal Honor Book, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. A strong, beautiful woman is the hero of this Chinese folktale. The greedy king sets her three increasingly difficult tasks, but she defeats him in the end by transforming his wish into a curse. Yep retells the story in a direct, contemporary style, and the pictures are like scenes under water or in the moonlit sky.

Publisher's Weekly Review

When Uncle Wu marries the beautiful Shell, who is of the sea and can assume the form of a seashell at will, he cannot resist bragging about her, and word soon reaches the realm's greedy, cruel king. The ruler imprisons Wu, vowing to kill him and marry Shell--unless she can perform three seemingly impossible tasks. Relying on both magic and wiles, she accomplishes all three feats and destroys the monarch forever. Yep's evocative yet gentle retelling emphasizes the story's romantic aspects as well as its supernatural qualities: Wu and Shell meet because both are lonely, and they establish their bond with mutual understanding and trust. Yang's exquisite pen-and-watercolor scenes have the simultaneous delicacy and strength of traditional Chinese art. His precise, graceful lines and soft colors capture both the mystery of Shell's transformations and the practical determination that underpins her eventual success, and evoke settings ranging from the solitary expansiveness of the South China shore to the cold, terrible splendor of the royal palace. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 6-Uncle Wu, a young man long faithful to a lost love, falls in love with a sea spirit named Shell, who is capable of shapeshifting into human form at will. They marry and live happily until news of the wonders she can perform brings her to the attention of the wicked king of the land, who orders her brought before him. Wishing to have her as his queen, the monarch imprisons Uncle Wu, threatening to kill him unless the young woman performs the three tasks he assigns her. Upon completion of the third task, the king declares that Uncle Wu shall not be free and that Shell herself will also be detained. The dog that brings ``luck,'' the king's third request, now turns on him, spitting fire. He and his henchmen are engulfed in flames, while Shell and the young man escape on the dog's back. Though a tad grisly, this is certainly a gripping tale, well told in Yep's clear and lively prose. Yang's illustrations depict early China in great detail; always effective, they occasionally rise to brilliance. It is amazing that such vivid scenes as the burning palace could be rendered so wonderfully in watercolors. An excellent addition to any folklore collection.-John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.