Japan

Tsunami

Kajikawa, Kimiko. Tsunami! New York: Philomel Books, 2009.
“A wealthy man in a Japanese village, who everyone calls Ojiisan, which means grandfather, sets fire to his rice fields to warn the innocent people of an approaching tsunami.” – CIP  Extraordinarily powerful illustrations.

The Master Puppeteer

Paterson, Katherine. The Master Puppeteer. New York: Harper Collins, 1975.
A thirteen-year-old boy lives in lonely poverty, learning how to take pride in his own skills, in eighteenth century Japan. [Historical fiction; Japan; Poverty]

Wabi Sabi

Reibstein, Mark. Wabi Sabi. New York : Little, Brown, 2008.“Wabi Sabi, a cat living in the city of Kyoto, learns about the Japanese concept of beauty through simplicity as she asks various animals she meets about the meaning of her name.” – CIP    Beautifully collaged illustrations! 

Say, Allen. The Boy in the Garden. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010.
A quietly beautiful picture book for reflective inquisitive readers 8 to 14 years old.  [Cranes (Birds); Dreams; Japan; Winter]

Drawing from Memory

Say, Allen. Drawing from Memory. New York : Scholastic Press, 2011.
An autobiographical account of the author and artist’s childhood. Highly recommended.

Drawing From Memory (Scholastic Press, 2011) by Caldecott medal winner Allen Say is an inspiring story about Allen Say’s life. His life was very eventful and also very interesting. This book starts with Allen telling what he did as a kid. All he did as a kid was read and draw. Their family had to escape the war and move quickly. But during that chaos, all Allen wanted to do was draw, and his parents and grandparents hated him for it. His Grandmother finally told him hat if he got into this very well known private middle school, she would rent an apartment for him at the age of 12. Allen of course studied everyday hoping to pass the entrance exam. Once he passed the exam, his Grandmother rented him a place in an apartment. This only reason his Grandmother sent him to the apartment was so he could study for his new school, but the only thing on Allen’s mind was to draw, and draw, and draw. After going out to dinner, Allen picks up the local newspaper at the restaurant. He starts to read about another kid who ran away from home just to draw. He soon got taken in by Allen’s favorite artist, Noro Shinpei. Noro gave him a test just as bad as the middle school exam. Allen passed and became the second apprentice of Noro Shinpei.
This book was creatively coloured. But this book was also very inspiring and interesting. I loved this book, because Allen’s life is very like mine. I often feel like Allen. (Kelvin in grade eight)

Say, Allen. Erika-san. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2008.
A little girl, seeing a picture of a teahouse in her grandmother’s home, becomes curious about Japan. She reads books about Japan, learns how to speak Japanese, and – after she grows up and finishes college – moves to Japan to become a schoolteacher. But busy Tokyo doesn’t appeal to her. She longs for the countryside. She finally finds it, a little village that reminds her of the picture from long ago, a place where she makes a friend, marries him, and creates her new home.
Some reviewers have criticized this picture book for depicting a character that dislikes a foreign city, for writing about a character appropriating another culture as her own. But this quietly beautiful picture book isn’t about displaying political correctness or conveying moral messages. It is a story about someone who admires a way of life and goes out to find it. It is a story for everyone who has had a dream and then set out to find it. Recommended for reflective readers 9 to 12 years old. 

Grandfather's Journey

Say, Allen. Grandfather’s Journey.  Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
“A Japanese American man recounts his grandfather’s journey to America which he later also undertakes, and the feelings of being torn by a love for two different countries.” CIP

Crow Boy

Yashima, Taro. Crow Boy. Puffin, 1976.
A classic story of courage about a little boy who is treated like an outsider. Caldecott Honor Book. Highly recommended.

Click HERE to learn more about Allen Say.

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