“I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world.”
So whenever I can, I want to illustrate little scenes from one of my favorite books, Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart. It’s a sprawling adventure set in “an ancient China that never was.”
Things begin on a real high note, when protagonist Number Ten Ox wakes one day to find the kids in his town stricken by plague.
“The boys at the riverbank were staring wide-eyed at Fang’s Fawn, who had turned pale as death. She clutched her throat and gave a sharp cry of pain and toppled from the water buffalo to the grass.”
“Not one child under the age of eight and not one adult over the age of thirteen had been affected by the plague, but every child – every single one – between the ages of eight and thirteen had screamed and blindly clawed the air, and now lay still as death in the infirmary that the abbot had set up in the bonze’s common room. The weeping parents looked to the abbot for a cure, but he spread his arms and cried out in despair:
‘First tell me how a plague can learn how to count!’”