Cover of The Seventh Mandarin by Jane Yolen

Seventh Mandarin, The

An original fairy tale set in Thailand and based on a line in my kite research which said that the king had kite mandarins who flew his kite at night to keep his soul above the terrors of the night. The story, written during my Quaker phase, is about speaking truth to power no matter what the cost. (“Speaking truth to power” is a Quaker phrase.) Young’s artwork here is dark and strong, more allegorical than straight-forward illustration. The book was a Junior Literary Guild selection.

Out of print.


  • February 1971 Junior Literary Guild Selection
  • Publishers’ Weekly :Children’s Books to Remember, January 1971


  • Animated film, Stephen Bosustow Productions

What reviewers have said:

  • “A smooth, flowing story…”—New York Times
  • “A beautifully written and illustrated book that seems to capture Eastern Mysticism.”—Findings and Impressions, Monthly Review of Books and Other Media, Texas
  • “In a tautly written fable-like tale, the youngest mandarin brings wisdom to his king. Sweeping action in glowing scenes.”—Library of Congress Children’s Books, 1970
  • “Original, sensitively told fable…”—Booklist
  • “The reader is propelled swiftly through this fascinating book, carried forward by the dramatic fable and perfectly attuned ethereal illustrations.”—St. Louis Dispatch
  • “The tale, told in the style of legend, describes the night of the great wind that brought the seventh mandarin to a knowledge of all the despair outside the walls. The illustrations are stunning: large, sweeping paintings, subtly colored and beautifully composed.”—Saturday Review
  • “Here is an original fable, told with oriental elegance, yet simplicity of style…a jewel, perfectly faceted…”—Children’s Bookshelf, Journal and Sentinel
  • “Good style, good storytelling…and a great harmony between text and illustration.”—Bulletin of the Children’s Book Center