Men from the Village Deep in the Mountains
First published in 1973
About the Story
When I was being interviewed by Lee Deadrick at Scribner’s, the Scribner’s art editor was also looking at my portfolio. His name was—is—Alan Benjamin. Alan had worked at Macmillan before coming to Scribner’s, and when my interview was finished, he asked me what other publishers I would be visiting. I think I told him I had gone to four or five there in New York and was about ready to go back home to Boston. Alan asked if I might have time to go to Macmillan if he called and made an appointment for me. SURE!
So I walked over to Macmillan and met with the editor there, Susan Hirschman and the art editor, Ava Weiss. They looked at my portfolio—exactly the same pictures Lee Deadrick and Alan had seen, and including the first version of The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher—and said they seemed to have an Oriental influence. I said I had spent a year in Japan and admired Japanese painting, and had studied Japanese enough to speak and read it. They asked if I could find some Japanese folktales and translate them into English.
Japan has invented many, many folktales, and I had several collections of them. They were little paperback books about the size of very small children’s books, and were printed on thin paper with very small letters. Each volume had a maroon silk ribbon to hold your place that was glued inside the spine.
And so I translated several of the folktales that I like the most, and illustrated them in a style of Japanese sumi-e, or black ink brush painting that I had begun to learn when I was in Japan. This became my second book, Men from the Village Deep in the Mountains. Now the book is out of print, but I did enjoy translating the stories and painting the pictures.
But nobody wanted to publish The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher… yet. Except for Alan Benjamin.
copyright 2016 by Molly Bang