Monday, May 1, 2017

A new book from 1968: "The Legend of the Willow Plate"

So May is my birthday month, and I have already received in the mail a delightful package of goodies from my tea-loving pen pal in New York, Sandy. All the gifts were lovely and most welcome (and will no doubt show up in other blog posts), but I had to tell you about the item I will treasure most: a 1968 book that belonged to Sandy's mother, The Legend of the Willow Plate by Alvin Tresselt and Nancy Cleaver with pictures by Joseph Low. Knowing that this book once belonged to Sandy's mother makes me treasure it even more!

Aren't the illustrations charming? The style is different from the other "Legend of the Blue Willow Plate" stories I have seen, and the story is different as well. In this one, a mandarin's daughter, Koong-se, falls in love with a handsome but poor young clerk named Chang. Her father finds out of their involvement and orders Chang to flee, then he imprisons his daughter in a nearby pavilion so he can keep watch over her. The mandarin, seeking a suitable husband for his daughter, chooses a powerful mandarin named Ta-jin, and the marriage is arranged. As luck would have it for the love-stricken young lady, a coconut-shell boat (think "message in a bottle") arrives from Chang, who still loves Koong-se. She writes back and explains about the arranged marriage, and Chang shows up in disguise just before the wedding and runs off with Koong-se. They set up housekeeping on a small island, but alas, the spurned suitor finds out about all this and sends soldiers to kill Chang. Poor Koong-se sets fire to the house she'd holed up in and goes up in flames. Chang and Koong-se are then turned into doves by a goddess and finally get their happily-ever-after ending.

Now this version of the story is a bit meatier than others I have heard. In my paperback book, the lovers are hiding in an underground maze and die together. Have you heard a different ending to the story? Whatever the case, I am delighted with my new book, and maybe I'll write a grown-up version of this story one day!


  1. How sweet of Sandy to give you the book that was her mother's - and what a delightful book it is!

  2. This book is a very thoughtful gift. Thanks for sharing

  3. I have learned quite alot from you on this particular Blue Willow subject. Thanks!


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