The Wise Washerman

Washerman Aung Kyaing is acclaimed throughout his village for his "magical" ability to make clothes gleam like the snow-capped mountains. Jealous of the washerman's success, a treacherous neighbour seeks to ruin him by tricking the king into giving Aung Kyaing a seemingly impossible task. He must use his skills to transform the king's ordinary gray elephant into a fabled white elephant. If he fails, he will be banished from his beloved kingdom forever.  The humble washerman knows that wisdom and hard work are the only true "magic" he possesses – but will they be enough to save him?


Between the Lines

Published in 1996 by Hyperion Press to favourable reviews, The Wise Washerman is Deborah's first book. It launched her career as a writer and opened the door to leading creative writing workshops for children, teens and adults.

Writing The Wise Washerman involved significant research about Burmese folklore, history and customs. At the time the book was written, Burma was a relatively closed country that denied journalists access, so information was hard to come by. Most facts were gleaned from travel journals. 

Wang Kui, who illustrated The Wise Washerman, was born in China and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Sichaun Fine Arts Institute before moving to Canada. His illustrations won him a nomination for the 1996 Amelia Frances Howard Gibbon Award and he was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature – Illustration.



Top gift choice for Christmas 1996; Owl's Canadian Family magazine

Starred Our Choice award, The Canadian Children’s Book Center

Short-listed for the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award.



In her first children's book, Froese retells a diverting folktale in lively, forthright prose. Publishers Weekly.

Children old enough to appreciate trickery, cleverness, and justice will enjoy this tale. School Library Journal.

Deborah Froese writes lyrically. Her gentle, formal style, using elevated language evokes pictures of ancient, ordered times. Canadian Review of Materials.



The Wise Washerman is available at

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