This is perhaps the first time that I’ve read a children’s book and I cannot say that I have a lot of input on the artwork. In fact, all I can honestly say is that the cover is quite beautiful and the few illustrations I saw in the audiobook trailer were lovely. A blend of watercolor depictions, I just love how it all comes together. For Maya and the Turtle: A Korean Fairy Tale by John Stickler and illustrated by Soma Han, I actually just listened to the audiobook. What really intrigued me about making this decision was the fact that the narrator is a young girl. And honestly? She did an absolutely amazing job. Much better than I could have done at her age.
Maya and the Turtle is a story about kindness and self-sacrifice for others. It follows the life of a young girl who takes care of her father after her mother dies. Before her mother dies, she tells Maya of a taemong dream–a sort of prophetic dream–for what she knows will happen later on in her daughter’s life. Maya later befriends a turtle whom she takes care of always regardless of how dire she and her father’s situation becomes. When her father grows ill, however, Maya soon realizes that she must do what she can to take care of him and offers herself up as a sacrifice to a flying centipede that has been terrorizing a nearby village in exchange for money to buy the medicine her father desperately needs.
Maya and the Turtle very much falls in line with many fairy tales I’ve read in the past. Overarching elements relating to the message of the story remain very similar and . Selflessness in characters results in good things whereas vileness results in misfortune. In the case of this story, Maya’s selfless and general good nature bring her fortune later in her life. But, had she not been the kind and self-sacrificing person that she was it is likely that those events never would have come to pass.
It is a cute, albeit somewhat sad story. I do feel that there was a point in which we don’t really see enough of Maya’s emotional response to what happens with the turtle toward the end of the story. Events following all seem to get wrapped up quickly and I would have liked a little more time spent there. Also, I have to admit, though I know it is a product of time as this is a story that has been passed down through the generations, it bugs me when the child sacrifice is almost always a young girl.
All in all, though, I really did enjoy this book. The story was a wonderful one with a great message. Illustrations, though I have only seen the cover and the few that were shown in the trailer, are gorgeous. And I absolutely adored the narration.
The narrator, young Talulah pictured holding the very book itself on the left, did an absolutely phenomenal job. Not only was she pleasant to listen to, but I really just enjoyed how she told the story. Now, I don’t know a lot about audiobook narrating or how it is editing, but I can admit that it does seem like this one would benefit from a little bit of that as there are several occasions in which I can hear her take a breath. Personally, this doesn’t actually bother me, however, I have seen people comment on this as a downside in the past. In truth, I feel that is more something to be addressed in editing. Talulah simply did an amazing job narrating this book.
It’s a very cute story with an incredible narrator that I would definitely recommend checking out. The book itself was nominated for (and won) the Morning Calm Medal. And whether you decide to read it via audiobook or to pick up a physical or e-copy for yourself, it is definitely worth spending time on.