Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Su Dongpo

Demi's new picture book, Su Dongpo, is an entrancing work of art.

Su Dongpo is a biography of "China's greatest genius." Su Dongpo (1036-1101) was "a statesman, philosopher, poet, painter, engineer, architect, and humanitarian who approached everything with joy and grace." Demi tells the story of Su Dongpo's life, illustrated with poetry about and by Su Dongpo. It's a fascinating tale in and of itself, but the poetry and the pictures are what really make this book.

Here, for example, is one of Su Dongpo's poems he wrote as a schoolboy:

To what can human life be likened?
Perhaps to a wild goose's footprint on snow;
The foot imprint is accidentally left,
But carefree, the bird flies east and west.

Demi's illustrations are stylized, accented with gold ink, and truly breathtaking in their beauty. I had to stop myself from cutting them out and tacking them up above my desk.

Su Dongpo is out this month from Lee & Low Books and would be an excellent addition to any school (or homeschool) unit on China and Chinese history.