"Long, long ago when tigers still smoked pipes, there lived Lady Hahn." Her job was to sew shirts and skirts with the help of her friends--Mrs. Ruler, Newlywed Scissors, Young Bride Needle, Young Bride Red Thread, Old Lady Thimble, Young Lady Flatiron, and Little Miss Iron. One day, they each boasted about their talents, declaring "I am the most important of all." After being scolded by Lady Hahn, they hid from her. Lady Hahn wisely brings them all back together--but not until she learns an important lesson herself.
This folktale tale comes from a classical Korean essay. While the story creatively personalizes the essential items needed to sew, it teaches some important lessons about human nature. First, the characters begin with self-centered and boastful attitudes which are reflected in Lady Hahn’s response as well. She declares they are all silly because she is the most important. Without her hands, they would all be superfluous. Next, the story illustrates how quickly people can turn to fussing and complaining when things don’t go their way or when they feel unappreciated. Finally, Lady Hahn and her sewing friends realize that each one of them is necessary to successfully create a new garment. She states: “I forgot how important all of you are. A shirt cannot be made if one of you is missing.” Ultimately, everyone’s input and cooperation are necessary for success and harmony.
The illustrations, created with rich oil colors and pencil drawings, primarily use playful shapes and patterned backgrounds. A range of emotions is captured well to reflect the narrative. For instance, when Lady Hahn is attempting to sew a sleeve without her seven friends, her face is distressed in various stages of the process the circular shapes and random placement of figures effectively portray frustration. When the friends return, everything on the page is orderly and cheerful.
I recommend Lady Hahn and her Seven Friends for ages 4 and up. The story is multicultural, educational, and entertaining.