Remembering Ed Young and his Seven Blind Mice



The author of possibly my favourite children’s picture book has died. Ed Tse-chun Young both wrote and illustrated Caldecott-award-winner, Seven Blind Mice (1992). The inspiration for the book came from an Indian fable known as “The Blind Men and the Elephant.”  

CC Alvintrusty

Young received an earlier Caldecott medal in 1990, for his picture book, Lon Po Po. (A re-telling of the Chinese Red Riding Hood).  Born in 1931, he was raised in China, a culture which influenced most of his picture books. Young is quoted as saying:

“A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words … they are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe." 

He moved to the USA when he was 19 and studied art, receiving many awards for his picture books ...

 ... stories that focus on Chinese and Indigenous folktales and I loved sharing them with my children when they were young. Over the years, it's the wisdom of Seven Blind Mice and its stark images that has stayed with me. 

The collage artwork in Seven Blind Mice, is featured on solid black.  Kirkus Reviews said, “Exquisitely crafted: a simple, gracefully honed text, an appealing story, real but unobtrusive values and levels of meaning, and outstanding illustrations and design--all add up to a perfect book.” (1992)

Compare this to a Kirkus review of an early Ed Young book, Up a Tree, where the reviewer writes, “A negligible idea occupying a very few pages--to be no sooner seen than forgotten.”  (1983) Ouch! Good thing Mr. Young didn’t let such a negative review stop him. 

Ed Young’s mice have been my role models. Sharing other points of view lets us grow wiser. I’m grateful for his art, his vision and his stories. 



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