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by Mordicai Gerstein


School Library Journal:

Gr 2 Up- This story of the death and reincarnation of a Tibetan woodcutter is a beautifully gentle look at one human being dealing with life’s choices and possibilities. As a boy, he thought about other worlds that he would someday visit; as a man, he thought of other countries and people, yet “he was always busy with his work and his wife and children.” After his death, he is given the option of being part of “the endless universe some call heaven” or living another life, and he chooses another life. The choices which follow take him through all the galaxies, stars, planets, creatures, peoples, countries, and parents before arriving at the final twist in this journey back to where he had been almost. Thus, the story comes full circle. The quiet, rhythmic text is in perfect unity with the softly colored but radiant watercolor and gouache illustrations, leaving readers with a sense of wholeness and resolution. The golden borders neatly tuck the story in and add to its feeling of satisfaction and quiet joy. The real world scenes are in neatly boxed frames while the worlds of possibilities are displayed in mandala-like circular drawings. The main character, pictured in his small personal mandala, shows a range of emotions and dance-like movement. The kites held by the children in three scenes connect the multiple worlds of the story, providing both a grounding in the world we know and a means to soar beyond it. Children will appreciate the well-told tale and the joyous satisfaction of being one’s own self in a large and magical world. -Kay E. Vandergrift, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.


  • New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books: 1987


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Ages 0-8, Folklore