Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Patterson
A beautiful mandarin duck is captured and caged by a greedy lord who wants to show off the bird's magnificent plumage. But the wild creature pines for his mate. When Yasuko, the kitchen maid, releases the bird against her lord's command, she and the one-eyed servant, Shozo, are sentenced to death. The grateful bird intends to return their kindness, but can he outsmart the cruel lord? This is a tale that teaches the dangers of vanity and pride, but also the rewards of kindness, compassion, courage, and loyalty.