Today’s book is called (according to the book itself) “The White Mouse Story.”  It is originally a Korean book and it is a Korean folktale.  It is written by Chul-moon Jang and illustrated by Mi-sook Yoon.

In Japanese, the title is “Fushigina Shiro Nezumi.”  (The Strange White Mouse)

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I love the illustration style in the book.

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There is a mouse that goes in and out of mouse holes and eats poop.  I didn’t really understand much more than that.  But the mouse does help the elderly couple find some money at the end of the story.

I tried to find this folktale on the internet in English to help me understand it, but I couldn’t find it.  This was all I could find.


By the way, a couple of days ago I learned that Korean-American author and illustrator Yumi Heo passed away recently.

I was watching this interview of her.   It covers various topics, but one thing she said is that when she wrote a picture book called “The Green Frogs,” her American publisher wanted her to change the ending of this traditional Korean folktale.  But she didn’t, and the mom frog dies in the end (the same as the folktale.)

Yes.   Reading Japanese folktales I am struck sometimes with the feeling that they just won’t resonate with western (in my case, American) audiences.   Dying, crueltry, trickery, and so on.  When you grow up with it, you are used to it.  (Witches wanting to eat children, for example, is acceptable in the west even though it’s actually a rather ghastly thought.)  So I think that sometimes that is why certain Japanese (and Korean) folktales will not make their way into American picture books any time soon.

It’s a shame, though.  I do think these folktales should be read, if not by very young children, then by older children.  It’s an important part of learning about culture.