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*Chopsticks* by Jon Berkeley

by Jon Berkeley
ages 4-8 32 pages Random House December 2005 Hardcover    

Jon Berkeley's Chopsticks is the absolutely enchanting tale of a mouse who lives an unassuming existence in a floating Hong Kong restaurant, scurrying about at night for crumbs of food overlooked by the cleaners. Then, in the magical, silvery light of a full New Year's night moon, a wooden dragons coiled around one of the restaurant's entrance pillars speaks to him.

The dragon longs to fly and tells the mouse that he could come along if he could help free the wood and lacquer dragon from his sentinel position. Only Old Fu the woodcarver, says the dragon, who carved him so many years ago, might know how to bring a wooden dragon to life.

Curious about the world, Chopsticks hitches a ride across the harbor to the woodcarvers' workshops and finds the ancient now-blind artisan living alone on a small sampan. Old Fu knows almost immediately what Chopsticks is there for, and on a wooden whistle plays the mouse a beautiful tune of nature and life:
The song of a blackbird was in his tune, and the sound of the water sighing around the sampan.
Old Fu gives Chopsticks the whistle and tells him to play the song on the night of the next full moon. The mouse does as instructed, and the dragon is freed at last. Together he and Chopsticks fly up into the night on every full moon, over lands that are the stuff of dreams, returning just before sunrise to the restaurant

The rich and, to a Westerner's eye, exotic illustrations filling the pages of this picture book and the gentle fable-like tone of the text enrapture children and adults alike, blowing a soft breath of Chinese New Year wonder into readers' souls.

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