Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Rock Maiden

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Today we have a special treat!  Author Natasha Yim is blog touring with her brand new book and she has been kind enough to share her writing inspiration with us!

rock maiden

Title: The Rock Maiden – A Chinese Tale of Love And Loyalty

Written By: Natasha Yim

Illustrated By: Pirkko Vainio

Wisdom Tales, March 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: retold legends/folktales, faith, hope

Opening: “There was once a beautiful maiden named Ling Yee.  She lived in Hong Kong, a fishing village on the southern coast of China.  All the young men in the village wanted to marry her.
But Ling Yee loved Ching Yin, a young fisherman.  She was touched by his kindness.  H often helped the old men pull in their boats and haul in their fish.

Brief Synopsis: From the publisher: “When her fisherman husband fails to come home after a storm at sea, the beautiful maiden Ling Yee is heartbroken. Every morning, she puts her baby on her back and clambers to the top of a cliff looking for any signs of his return. But day after day, she is disappointed. The villagers try to convince her to give up her vigil. “No,” she would say, “He will come home soon.” Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Heavens, takes pity on her grief and turns Ling Yee and her child into stone so that they would mourn no more. The fisherman eventually finds his way home―only to discover that his wife has been transformed into the Rock Maiden. Will the family forever be kept apart? Or will devotion and faithfulness ultimately be rewarded?”

Links To Resources:  The Rock Maiden is a retelling of an old Hong Kong legend.  What favorite folk tale, legend or other classic tale might you retell?  How would you do it?  Write your own!  Draw a picture that represents a favorite moment in one of your favorite folk tales or legends. The story of  The Rock Maiden explains how a certain rock came to be.  Write a story about how something you know of came to be – a specially shaped rock, like in The Rock Maiden, or a mountain range, or a lake or pond, or an ancient tree…

Special Resource!  A glimpse into inspiration and writing – author Natasha Yim shares her thoughts about how she became inspired to write the story of The Rock Maiden:

“The story of the Rock Maiden has been brewing in my head—and my heart— since my adolescent years growing up in Hong Kong. On occasional weekends, to get away from the bustle of city crowds, my parents would take the family to Sha Tin, a region in the New Territories, an area of Hong Kong that in the 1970s was still rural. We referred to it as our “countryside,” even though it was on the outskirts of a city of six million people.

On these weekend outings, we would often lunch or have afternoon tea at a hotel with an outdoor patio. From the patio, one could get a good view of the Amah Rock, a natural granite rock formation shaped like a woman with a baby on her back. In the lobby of the hotel was a plaque that told her story: how a young woman had lost her fisherman husband at sea and her faithful vigil on top of a hill looking for his return. Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, took pity upon her and turned her into stone so she wouldn’t mourn anymore.

This story captured my adolescent romantic fancy and on every outing to Sha Tin, I would gaze at the Amah Rock wondering what happened to this family. As I grew older, this woman and her baby continued to penetrate my thoughts from time to time. I knew that one day, I’d write her story.

Years later, when I did sit down to write this tale, I was writing for children and imagined it as a picture book. However, I thought it was a bit too sad and depressing as a story for kids to have her end up as a rock on top of a hill. So, I re-envisioned the story with a happier ending.

I created the story about twelve years ago, but it’s had a difficult time finding its way to publication. Many of the rejections I received said it was a lovely tale but too “quiet” or that it doesn’t have a child protagonist or that folk tales are a “hard sell” as standalone picture books.

One of the lessons I’ve learned as a writer is that if a story sinks its teeth into me and won’t let go, I must write it. And two, every story has to have a champion to help it find its way into the world. First, the writer who feels compelled to write it, and then the editor/publisher who feels its voice needs to be heard. For this reason, I am grateful to Wisdom Tales Press for their vision, insights, and support of The Rock Maiden.

I hope children around the world will enjoy the story of the Amah Rock as much as I did as a child.”

Why I Like This Book: I love retellings of classic tales – especially tales I’m unfamiliar with.  This one, though sad for a while, is a story of love, faith and hope.  And in Natasha’s retelling, it has a happy ending in which love overcomes all obstacles.  The art is so beautiful – delicate and stunning – a perfect complement to the story!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

The other stops on Natasha’s blog tour are listed below, in case you are interested in finding out more about Natasha and her wonderful new book!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

MARCH 3: Jeff Barger, NC Teacher Stuff
MARCH 7: Sheryl Hagan-Booth, Booth Talks Books
MARCH 10: Susanna Hill, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog
MARCH 14ReaderKidZ, reviewer Nancy Bo Flood
MARCH 20: MaryAnn Scheuer, Great Kid Books
MARCH 22: Pam Margolis, An Unconventional Librarian
MARCH 28: Stephanie Kammeraad, Mama-Lady-Books

14 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Rock Maiden

  1. ptnozell says:

    This book looks so lovely, Susanna. I haven’t heard of this old folktale, nor did I know about the rock in Hong Kong, but I love folktales and I love rocks, so I can’t wait to read this. I also am not familiar with Wisdom Tales. Thanks so much for hosting this stop on the blog tour.

  2. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I grew up with a tale about a mountain that looked like a sleeping maiden, and deep in the cave was her heart. So this story about a rock maiden looks wonderful. Definitely going to have to check it out. And for anyone whose reviews I missed last week: this is my weekend to catch up on good reading.

  3. Cathy Ballou Mealey says:

    Lovely that Natasha’s book finally found the perfect home! I look forward to reading and sharing it.

  4. Gabi Snyder says:

    I loved reading about Natasha’s inspiration for this story. It’s interesting how long some of our stories brew before we tell them! I can’t wait to check it out.

  5. Natasha Yim (@natashayim) says:

    Thank you, everyone, for stopping by on Blog Stop #3 of the Rock Maiden. And thank you, once again, Susanna, for being part of my virtual book tour. I appreciate all the lovely comments. For those of you who like folk tales, check out Wisdom Tales books. They specialize in folk tales from around the world.

  6. jeanjames926 says:

    I love how this story has been brewing with the author since childhood. I’m disappointed that the story was rejected for being too quiet, lacking a child protagonist, or a “hard sell” folk tale. I think this is exactly the kind of story children would love, it’s one they’ve never heard of, it’s culturally diverse, and has a message of love, not sure what’s not to love about it. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this book!

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