Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Green Ginger Lands in Wall Street Journal

The WSJ picked up The Land of Green Ginger (which, by the way, I'll read to my kids one day). Their take:

The Land of the Green Ginger
By Noel Langley
Illustrated by Edward Ardizzone
Godine, 149 pages, $10.95

reviewed by Meghan Cox Gurdon
September 1, 2007

When Aladdin sat on the throne of Imperial China - and yes, gentle reader, he did - it came to pass that a genie informed his handsome son, Abu Ali, of his destiny. Abu Ali's task, the genie explained, was to find the Land of Green Ginger, a magical garden that behaved rather like a flying carpet by floating over the world and only rarely coming to rest. Abu Ali would furthermore have to lift a spell from the wizard who had created this wonderful place. Only then might Abu Ali seek the hand of the loveliest girl in all Asia, Silver Bud of Samarkand. From the start of Noel Langley's amusing tale, first published in 1937, there is no doubt that Abu Ali will succeed, for he is clever, amiable and so precocious that he engages in saucy banter with his astonished father within hours of being born. What makes this familiar hero-undergoing-ordeals-to-win-pretty-girl plot unusually fun are the absurd supporting characters - two wicked rival suitors are named Tintac Ping Foo and Rubdub Ben Thud - and the skilled, playful writing. (The South Africa-born Langley was a playwright and screenwriter whose credits include the script for "The Wizard of Oz.") Here he describes the itinerant garden: "It was sprinkled with ginger trees laden down with branch upon branch of sparkling sugar-coated green ginger; and big bright beauteous flowers grew out of the soft velvety grass, and water-lilies floated on a cheerful little hubblebubbling stream. It was all charmingly rural. No bits of paper, no empty bottles, no initials carved on the tree trunks. You cannot imagine such natural wonders, gentle reader; you must simply take my word for it." The sometimes excessive whimsy of "The Land of Green Ginger" means that it won't suit a world-weary child, but readers ages 6-10 who still love fairy tales are likely to find it very entertaining.

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