The Crane Wife: Sumiko Yagawa

The Crane Wife

Author/Illustrator: Retold by Sumiko Yagawa, Suekichi Akaba, and Katherine Paterson
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Publication Year: 1981
Brief Summary: When a simple-minded, poor peasant named Yohei saves a wounded crane, he was visited by a beautiful woman who asked to be his wife.  After she mysteriously weaves beautiful bolts of cloth out of necessity, he becomes greedy and demands more.
Awards, Honors and Prizes:
New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year, 1981 Winner United States

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library:

  • Discussion on Japanese folktales.
  • Read alongside Allen Say’s The Boy in the Garden, which is based on this old Japanese story.
  • Use as part of social studies lesson on Japan.  Does the crane symbolize anything in our culture?  How about in Japan?  (In Japan, a crane is a symbol of hope, luck, and life.  Folding 1000 cranes results in one granted wish.)  What is something similar that we have in our culture, if any?  (does superstitions count?  wishing upon a shooting star?)
  • Teach students to make origami cranes.

Brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Text-to-world connections
  • Math — geometry in origami
  • Social studies — Japanese study; culture; superstitions

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.: N/A
Accessed at: Personal Library

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