Monday, April 4, 2016

Han and the Mysterious Pearl

By Barbara Bockman

Illustrated by Carl Kocich

Barbara Bockman’s latest picture book, “Han and the Mysterious Pearl,” illustrated by Carl Kocich, is a vivid retelling of an ancient Chinese legend. In this story, Han, the son of a fisherman needs to take care of his mother now that his father is gone. Han builds a bamboo raft and goes fishing with his pet cormorant who bonded with Han as a chick.

At the end of the day, Han sees a cave with a mysterious glow. He enters and finds an enormous pearl by an old man sleeping. Overcome with desire, Han takes the pearl, knowing its great value. All nature now seems against him as the rain storm and the wild river increase. They seem to say “Return the pearl, return the pearl.” Han finally makes it home and his mother is shocked by what Han has done. 

He has stolen the River God’s pearl. Even knowing Han did it for her, his mother demands he return the pearl. Will Han be able to return the pearl or will he suffer the wrath of the River God? Can Han appease the River God and what will be the cost? These are some of the moral challenges faced by Han (and us.) You’ll have to read the book to find out how it ends.

The artwork by Carl Kocich takes you back in time to old China. Each character’s emotions are clearly depicted. And the realism of the scenes is captivating. Combined with Ms. Bockman’s artful words, this is a compelling story that is sure to please children. Teachers will appreciate this book’s multi-cultural message and tie in to units on fables and legends and Chinese history. This book is highly recommended for school and classroom libraries, and for students ages 7 to 10.

Information on author Barbara Bockman is at

Information on artist Carl Kocich is at

Barbara Bockman, Carl Kocich, Han, the mysterious pearl, the River God, Chinese legend, moral dilemmas, ethics, China, fable, legend, history, cormorants, fishermen.