Review: an oldie but a goodie - A Night on Bare Mountain

Part of a series of Japanese books that illustrate famous classical music, A Night on Bare Mountain (Gakken, 1971), written by Satoru Sato and illustrated by Taro Semba, tells the story of a traveler who is stranded on Bare Mountain.  During the night, a blue devil calls upon witches, ghosts, skeletons, and egg goblins to celebrate a great drunken festival.  The poor traveler endures the night until the bells of dawn banish the evil spirits.

The story may be familiar to anyone who has watched the "Night on Bald Mountain" section of Disney's Fantasia, but the illustrations are much cuter and child-friendlier.  The smiling ghosts and skeletons may even be the forerunners of the ubiquitous cute critters that are found on kids' clothes and hipster bags today (think Tokidoki).  Like many great children's stories, this book presents danger in a palatable form; in this case, the cuteness of the monsters are reassuring, and all ends well.

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