The Rock Maiden
written by Natasha Yim; illustrated by Pirkko Vainio
2017 (Wisdom Tales)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Every morning, Ling Yee put her baby on her back. Then she hiked to the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. There she would scan the horizon for her husband.
In a Chinese fishing village named Hong Kong, Ling Yee's heart was caught by a man who helped elderly fishermen to pull in their boats. She married Ching Yin and they had a son. Their happiness was short-lived as Ching Yin did not return with the other fishermen after a stormy afternoon at sea. One fisherman described the storm as like "fighting a giant sea serpent." Not believing her husband to be dead, Ling Yee, with her baby on her back, hiked to the top of a cliff each day to look for Ching Yin. While the other villagers whispered, Ling Yee's parents were so concerned that they made an entreaty with the patron goddess of fishermen. Tin Hau was so moved by this dilemma that she sent a lightning bolt that turned Ling Yee and her child into stone. Thus was born the Rock Maiden on the cliff who continued to look for her husband. When a rough looking stranger came to the village a year later, he inquired about Ling Yee. It was Ching Yin, who had struggled to find his way home after being stranded at sea. When told of the fate of his beloved maiden, he went to her and wept in anguish. Seeing this, how would the goddess of fishermen react?
Based on an old Chinese legend, The Rock Maiden will be a superb source of discussion for small groups or whole classes. Why do I think this? Great questions popped up while I was reading. Why did the goddess turn Ling Yee into stone? What did Ching Yin have to do to make his way back home? Providing rich discussion is a valuable trait of this picture book. Having a setting that will be unfamiliar to most students is also a plus. Like a good movie, The Rock Maiden takes readers to another time and place. I would ask readers "Does this story take place in today's time?" They will have to pull clues from the beautiful watercolor artwork and the text to answer. Finally, I would share the author's note and ask readers why they think the author changed the ending of this legend. Do they like the change? So many good questions! One thing I don't question? This is an excellent addition to your collection of fairy tales and legends