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Dawn by Molly Bang


by Molly Bang

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Knowing that I love the traditional Japanese folktale of The Crane Wife, a friend recommended this American retelling, in which the story is transplanted to a nineteenth-century New England coastal village (thanks, Jude!). Despite my mixed feelings about revisionist folkloric retellings, in which tales are transplanted from one culture to another, I decided to give Dawn a try, and I'm glad I did! One of the things I look for, in such projects, is a sense of why this new setting is necessary for the story: what cultural parallel does it highlight? What new insight does it bring? If I get the sense that the author/artist just wants the characters to look different - to be from a different culture or race, in order to make readers feel more comfortable - than I'm less than impressed. But if it's obvious they're drawing something from the tale, and applying it to another setting or culture, than I'm intrigued.

Molly Bang seems to be doing the latter, and it's easy to see why: the original tale features a sail-maker, and speaks to a culture that is oriented to the sea. So too were (and are) the fishing villages of New England, and while the latter aren't regularly visited by cranes, they do see quite a few Canada geese. And so this retelling is very true, in some ways, to the original, despite being set in a very different place, and featuring a different species of bird. It also offers some additional details and insight, not found in the original, and can lead the reader to consider what happens next. I found the narrative here - related after the fact to the couple's daughter - very moving, as it really speaks to the husband's futile regret, his remorse, his longing. The open-ended conclusion - does Dawn (the daughter) ever succeed? - was very impressive: no neatly tied off end here, folks! The artwork, too, is most moving, alternating between black and white drawings and color paintings, both of which capture the sense of mystery and beauty to be found in the story.

All in all, this is a lovely little book, one I am glad to have picked up, and one which I recommend to young readers who enjoy sad stories, and (quality) revisionist fairy-tales. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 30, 2013 |
Bang, Molly. (2002) Dawn. New York: SeaStar Books.
This is the story of a man who is telling his daughter Dawn the story of her mother. He tells her of a goose that he found in the swamp as he was looking for wood. The goose was injured so he nursed it back to health and it flew off. A few weeks later a beautiful woman came to look for a job as sail maker and they fall in love, marry and have Dawn. A man comes to ask the father to build a racing boat and he agrees even though his wife says that she cannot make the sails without sacrificing herself. She asks him not to come into the room while she is working and one day he does and sees that she is a goose plucking the last feathers off her chest and weaving them into the sail. A flock of geese are waiting for her outside and she leaves with them.
What makes this traditional story unique is that it is based on a Japanese legend of the Crane Wife. It was written by Molly Bang who is a well known Caldecott winning illustrator. Although the story could be a little confusing for young children, the illustrations are great. ( )
  cacv78 | Jul 19, 2010 |
The book is a father talking to his daughter telling her about her mother. The mother turns into a goose while weaving sails for a racing sailboat. I think this story would scare children and it doesn't seem to have a clear point.
  Jrstoner | Apr 5, 2010 |
This book is the story of a ship builder and his wife. The man builds sailboats. One day he rescues a Canada Goose and nurses back to health. Soon after he meets a mysterious woman who weaves sails for boats. They soon marry each other and have a child named Dawn. Eventually the man learns that the goose he rescued so many years ago is also his wife. The wife gets taken away by other geese. Dawn promises her father that she will go and bring her mother back to them and she sets off at the end of the story on her journey. This was a very sweet story to read. I think children would really enjoy reading all about the sail boats and to know if Dawn ever did find her mother.
  csteadman | Mar 28, 2010 |
This book was about a man who helps a wounded goose. A few days after helping the goose a woman comes to him looking for work by building sails. He marries her and they have a young daughter named Dawn. He forces her to make a special kind of sail even though she does not want to. He finds out that she was the goose that he helped and she flies away. The daughter sets out to look for her.
  rsimmons | Feb 3, 2010 |
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"A long time ago, Dawn, before you were born, I used to build ships."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0688024009, Hardcover)

In this adaptation of "The Crane Wife," a shipbuilder marries a mysterious woman who makes him promise never to look at her while she weaves.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:27 -0400)

A shipbuilder tells his daughter Dawn how he once nursed a Canada goose with a broken wing, and how soon thereafter the young woman who would become his wife and Dawn's mother came to help him make sails.

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