White Ravens: Japanese

236 books      

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 1
Funazaki, Yasuko (text)
Kamiya, Shin (illus.)
Kamehachi
(Kamehachi, the Old Dog)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1992. 236 p.
ISBN 4-03-635510-4
self-development - dog - outsider - integration - divorced parent - single parent
No one likes 12-year-old Isamu, neither his classmates nor his neighbors; in fact, they avoid him. As soon as he gets an old dog, however, his conduct changes. The process of self-development is accompanied by a fine description of the changing of the seasons, which gives this novel its particular charm. In the last few years, more and more books focusing on domestic problems (e.g., divorced parents) are being published in Japan. As a rule, the stories are set in a metropolitan milieu, not in rural surroundings as in this book. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 2
Goto, Ryuji (text)
Tabata, Seiichi (illus.)
Nonbiri tenkosei jiken
(The Case of the New Slow Pupil)
Tokyo: Shin nihonshuppansha, 1985 (12th ed. 1992). 182 p.
ISBN 4-406-01191-9
school life - togetherness - verbal abuse
The arrival of a new, especially slow pupil changes the classroom atmosphere. The classmates begin to bully each other, although some want to restore harmony. A well-constructed school story - both pedagogically and didactically - without literary flights of fancy, appealing to a wide circle of readers. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 3
lwase, Jojo (text)
Ajito, Keiko (illus.)
Usojanaiyo to Tanikawa-kun wa itta
("I Don't Lie," Tanikawa Said)
Tokyo: PHP kenkyujo, 1992. 120 p.
ISBN 4-569-58519-1
friendship - family problems - social conscious- ness - individualism
This story deals with the friendship between a silent girl and a boy who is fighting a problem of always lying in his school classroom. The problems of family and school are depicted realistically. The novel's literary quality is most evident in its notable rhetoric. (12+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 4
Katayama, Ken (text/illus.)
Tange kun
(Tange, The Cat)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan, 1992. 32 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1163-1
cat
A girl takes home an ownerless cat who lost its eye in a fight. The dynamic, characteristic pictures are as vibrant and willful as the cat himself. (4+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 5
Matsutani, Miyoko (text)
lse, Hideko (illus.)
Akane-chan no namida no umi
(The Younger Sister Akane's Sea of Tears)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1992. 204 p.
ISBN 4-06-133514-6
divorced parents - death - siblings - children's imagination
This is last of six volumes of the long-seller imagination series about the siblings Momo and Akanewhich which began in 1964. The distinctive feature of this everyday story lies in the fact that the author tailored the topic of divorce for quite young readers back in the 1960s and takes care to depict unavoidable life circumstances not merely realistically but also to interweave them with ample childlike imagination and then to bind the whole in a very gentle, rhythmic language, giving it a special character. Suitable for reading aloud to younger children. (8+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 6
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Murakami, Tsutomu (illus.)
Kairo dancho
(The Bulfrog and His Gang)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1992. 36 p.
ISBN 4-03-963570-1
animal fable - frogs - exploitation - human
In this animal fable the weak tree frogs obey the weakness bullfrog. But even the strongest and cleverest bullfrog has its limits and weaknesses. In the end the higher powers restore peace in and around the pond. Murakami's unmistakable illustrations illuminate the story symbolism. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 7
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Takashi, Takako (illus.)
Okinagusa. Icho no mi
(The Spring Anemone. The Fruit of the Ginkgo Tree)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1992. 36 p.
ISBN 4-03-963500-0
natural law - submission to destiny
In late spring the seeds of the spring anemone are blown away in the wind and ascend to the heavens where they are transformed into twinkling stars. Thousands of Ginkgo children must leave their mother tree in autumn and plummet into the unknown. Miyasawa's (1896-1933) poetic stories dealing with collective destiny and submission to it are converted here into delicate pictures by blending the techniques of pastels and watercolors. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 8
Nasuda, Jun (text)
lse, Hideko (illus.)
Sueden no osarna
(The Little "King of Sweden”)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1992. 230 p.
ISBN 4-06-205805-7
musical passion – clavichord - instrument construction
This story is about a 14-year-old boy who, with the help of his older brother and a young girl, tries to reconstruct a clavichord named 'The Little King of Sweden" so that he can complete the unfinished sonata left behind by his uncle, who has disappeared. The expert description of the construction of the instrument does not burden the reader; rather it strengthens the definite luxurious character of the novel which opens up a new area in the domain of children's literature. The book is beautifully designed, and a touch of melancholy clings to the text. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 9
Oka, Shuzo (text)
Kamiya, Shin (illus.)
Shonen no hibi
(The Days of Youth)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1992. 181 p.
ISBN 4-03-635490-6
nature and life - youth - rural life
The author's own experiences with nature when he was a child are presented episodically, so that both the mystery and truth of life are expressed in a compelling way. Today the subject of nature in literature for children and young people is directed more toward its functional link with environmental problems and less toward the appreciation of nature in the classical sense found in this book. Whereas there is a growing trend in illustrations for Japanese children's literature of a characterless easy, sweet and comic style, Kamiya's plain, characteristic illustrations are a welcome change and deepen the text. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 10
Sagara, Atsuko (text)
Yagyu, Genichiro (illus.)
Patoka no Pisuke
(Pea-suke, the Patrol Car)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan, 1992. [32] p.
ISBN 4-8340-1158-5
toys - adventure
A humorously designed picture book for young children about two toys forgotten by their owners in the sandbox. Together they set out on an adventurous journey home. The simple, apt drawings and pictorial compositions become particularly vivacious against the white, docile background. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 11
Sasaki, Isao (text/illus.)
Natsu no owari umi wa...
(End of Summertime)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1992. [28] p.
ISBN 4-06-131882-9
summer - countryside - beach
A boy is about to leave the site of his holidays because the time of swimming is drawing to a close. A typically Japanese, modern atmospheric picture book which demands a sensitive visual perspective from the viewer. (6+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1993 - 12
Tani, Shinsuke
Okinawa shonen byoryuki
(Notes of a Boy Who Survived a Shipwreck)
Tokyo: Kin no hoshi sha, 1992. 245 p.
ISBN 4-323-00994-1
World War II - Okinawa - shipwreck - discrimination
On August 22, 1944 the Japanese civilian ship "Tsushima-maru", with approximately 1700 passengers on board (mainly children from Okinawa having been dispatched to the country), was hit by American torpedoes and sunk. Only a few survived. The first half of the novel depicts the experience of a boy as he survives in the ocean; the second half addresses the discrimination which the people evacuated from Okinawa encountered from mainland Japanese. The Japanese version of coming to terms with one's past in children's literature; reading matter dedicated to world peace and justice. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 1
Akutagawa, Ryûnosuke (text)
Miyaimoto, Junko (illus.)
Torokko
(The Truck)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1993. 40 p.
(Nihon no dôwa meisakusen)
ISBN 4-03-963610-4
Child - Fear – Relativity of Life
How unusual illustrations can be is shown in this picture book with "Yuzen''-coloring technique and batik, colored pictures on silk crepe, for a short story by the well-known modern classic writer Akutagawa. The wish of the eight-year-old village boy Ryohei to ride just once on a truck is granted one winter day. Immediately after that he must experience the terrible fear of being left alone in a strange place. In this way, the irony of life is symbolically shown. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 2
Awa, Naoko (text)
Ajito, Keiko (illus.)
Hanamame no nieru made - Sayo no monogatari
(Until the Beans are Cooked - The Story of Sayo)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1993. 142 p.
(Keiseisha wandârando 10)
ISBN 4-03-540100-5
Modern Fairy Tale-Japan-Natural Spirit -Daughter
This author occupies a special position in Japanese children's literature on account of her fairy tales. She unites mysterious Nature with the reality of the profane world, whereby her tales usually end in tragedy or are marked with melancholy. This book contains six stories about a 12-year-old girl named Sayo, child of the son of a tavern owner and the daughter of a mountain spirit. Because of her great longing, her mother, transformed into wind, returns to her original world. At home and in nature marvelous things happen, Sayo becomes acquainted with natural spirits and demons and become wind. herself, like her mother. Still she feels lonely, until she is given a second mother. The title story received the second Hirosukedôwashô Prize. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 3
Hata, Yoshiko (text/illus.)
Kakekko shiyô
(Do you want to race?)
Tokyo: lwasaki shoten, 1993. 28 p.
ISBN 4-265-01127-6
Vitality - Nature
Who wants to race with me? calls out a young boy. First of all a bird answers, then a fish, then wind, clouds and rain, and finally the sun. The boy and the natural elements racing with him convey vitality, the fundamental theme of this picture book. The drama of the race is expressed in the colors and the vigorous brush strokes, which fascinate the reader. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 4
Ishiguro, Namiko (reteller)
Kajiyama, Toshio (reteller/illus.)
Dagodago korokoro
(An Old Woman and a Dumpling)
Tokyo: Fukilinkan shoten, 1994. [32] p.
ISBN 4-8340-121S-2
Folktale/Japan - Demon - Dragonfly -Gratitude
Toshio Kajiyama is one of the few illustrators who still cultivates the traditional Japanese style of painting. In this picture book he has reduced his characteristic brush stroke, making the pictures more memorable. Even the western reader will find them less foreign. This folktale deals with an old woman who must prepare rice dumplings for the demons and is rescued from the demon's captivity by the red dragonflies. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 5
Kadono, Eiko (text)
Hirono, Takako (illus.)
Majo no takkyûbin sono 2 - Kiki to atarashii mahô
(The Witch's Special Delivery Service. Vol. 2: Kiki and Her New Magic)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1993. 400 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1174-7
Witch - Independence - Identity Crisis
Fifteen-year-old Kiki is half witch, half human and thus endowed with only one kind of magic flying on a broom. For several years she has been living on her own, self-supporting through her special delivery service and is much loved by people. In the second volume she has a conflict of conscience and thus an identity crisis. The story is amusing, full of fantasy and quite realistically written. The reader can readily understand the behavior and reactions of the protagonist. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 6
Matsui, Tadashi (reteller)
Andô, Norika (illus.)
Oni no ko Kozuna
(The Demon Child Kozuna)
Tokyo: lwasaki shoten, 1993. 31 p.
ISBN 4-265-03333-4
Fairy Tale/Japan - Demon - Self-sacrifice
After a long search, the father finds his daughter, who was stolen away by a demon to become his wife and his captive. With tricks she manages to flee with her son and father. When the child becomes aware of his demonic nature, he begs to be buried. By his self-sacrifice, the village achieves prosperity. In this folktale the illustrator combines his own individual style of expression with elements of traditional Japanese painting. The pictures express the fantastic elements of the story in their daring coloration. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 7
Nakamura, Masako (text)
Nishimaki, Kayako (text/illus.)
Ekakiuta no hon
(The Songs of Drawing)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1993. 32 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1169-0
Drawing - Children's Rhyme - Children's Play
This book contains six merry painting games. The rhythm of the texts yield melodies quite on their own. Following each text, simple lines are drawn in a certain order which in the end fit together into pictures of, for instance, a girl, eyeglasses, a dinosaur, etc. This book consists not just of instructions for a game, but cleverly forms a chain story. In Japan such games are much loved by children. (3+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 8
Sakata, Hiroo (text)
Chô, Shinta (illus.)
Dakuchiri dakuchiru - Hajimete no uta
(Dactyl Dactyl - The First Song of the World)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1993. [32] p.
ISBN 4-8340-1220-4
Dinosaur - Loneliness - Harmony - Nature- Humanity
In spite of the roaring noise of the fire-spewing mountains all around him, the giant Iguanadon is lonely. One day he encounters a brother-like creature, the pterodactyl. Although he doesn't understand the grating language, he nonetheless is pleased to hear it- the first song in the world. Emotions are the source of poetry. Higher poetry can ultimately lead us to humanitarianism. This picture book shows connections which the young reader can readily understand since the simple pictures and brief text of this story form an ideal unity. (3+)
(Based on a poem by Valentin Dmitrievich Berestov)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 9
Watanabe, Shigeo (text)
Inoue, Yôsuke (illus.)
Tsukiyo no jidôsha
(A Car at Full Moon)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993. 32 p.
ISBN 4-06-131888-8
Environment - Animal/Man - Friendship
An old man who lives in an auto graveyard near the sea befriends a neighboring badger family. Together they build a vehicle from parts of the auto wrecks in order to carry awav the litter from the coastal shores. With folkloric elements such as the appearance of badgers, full-moon gazing, etc. and the idyllic nighttime scenes results in a poetic story about a contemporary theme "environment." Done in only a few colors, these pictures obtain an earthy character. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1994 - 10
Yanagihara, Ryohei (text/illus.)
Kono nioi nan no nioi
(What is this smell?)
Tokyo: Kogumnsha, 1993. 32 p.
ISBN 4-7721-0116-0
Smell
The author, a specialist in the field of information books, attempts to create an image of the invisible sense of smell by associating his own personal images of odors with certain colors. The reader can, encouraged by this book, look for odors or live more consciously with odors. Objects and odors are presented in simplified form with graphic colors. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 1
Gotô, Ryûji (text)
Tanaka, Makiko (illus.)
Yashin aratamezu. - Hitakamikokuden
(We won't be conquered. The history of Hitakami)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993. 286 p.
(Wakuwaku raiburarî)
ISBN 4-06-195666-3
Japan/History (646-811) - Conquest/Resistance
This historical novel set in the 8th century, begins with the flight of fourteen-year-old, Abi of the Emishi peoples from their place of exile to his homeland. The Emishi were the original people of northern Japan who were organized in independent tribes with tribal chiefs and their own culture. The emperors of that period set out to conquer the northern territories. Abi experienced the fierce battles of his peoples with the imperial government which led to the final subjugation of the Emishi. This novel offers a colorful range of figures from the emperor, territorial princes, tribal leaders and field marshalls fighting against the barbarians (the Emishi). The latter are usually known as the poets of ancient Japan. This book acquaints the young reader with a lesser-known chapter of Japanese history, in which opposing forces - the rigorousness of the rulers and the fierce resistance of the oppressed - stands out. (13+)
(32nd Noma Award for Juvenile Literature (1994))

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 2
ltô, Hiroshi (text/illus.)
Osaru ni nani hi
(A Monkey is born)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994. 86 p.
(Dôwa ga ippai 36)
ISBN 4-06-19736-5
The first-reader series "Little Monkey Books" enjoys great popularity and wide readership from pre-school through adulthood. Little Monkey lives on a peaceful southern island. Earlier books in the series described the everyday life, the fear of being different, and adventures at sea; in this volume Little Monkey is waiting for a new brother or sister. The story tackles existential questions about life in a casual manner. The reader will be amused by the astonishing naivety, the delightful child-like thoughts and humorous illustrations which make the simple world of the monkey children seem like an oasis in comparison to one's own complicated and hectic surroundings. The "Little Monkey Books" are ingenious in their simplicity, which is perhaps the key to their enormous success. (5+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 3
lwasaki, Kyôko (text)
lwasaki, Chihiro (illus.)
Akamanma-Tôge
(Akamanma-Mountain Pass)
Tokyo: Doshinsha, 1994. 64 p.
ISBN 4-494-02321-3
Homesickness - Grandparent/Grandchild
When her mother goes to the hospital to have her second child, young Kazuko is taken to stay in the country with her grandmother. Although she is affectionately cared for by her grandparents, and can enjoy splendid natural surroundings, sometimes she is homesick. This is a sensitive story of everyday life which nearly every child experiences in one way or another. Particularly noteworthy are the gentle illustrations by Chihiro lwasaki which aptly capture the moods of the young girl and suggest something of the nature surrounding her without making it fully visible. From both a literary and an artistic point of view, this is an outstanding book in the inimitable Japanese style. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 4
Kimoto, Momoko (text/illus.)
Uzurachan no kakurembo
(Let's Play Hide-and-Seek)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1994. 32 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1230-1
Chicks - Hide-and-seek
A baby quail and a baby chick play hide- and-seek. Each searches for a hiding place resembling himself, to avoid discovery. But their play is always interrupted and they constantly find each other. Rain clouds darken the sky. Suddenly mysterious shadows appear beyond the grass - then- mothers are coming to get them. All go home together happy and satisfied. In these simple scenes of playtime, portrayed creatively in clear shapes and colors, the feelings that little children experience day after day, such as joy, fright, fear and security, are given lively, immediate expression. (2+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 5
Kimura, Shôhei (text)
Yamazaki, Takumi (illus.)
Watashi wa obâchanga suki
(Grandma, my Love!)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1994. [38] p.
ISBN 4-8340-1249-2
Grandmother/Grandchild - Old age/Illness
When Makiko's grandmother returns home from the hospital after her accident, she is mentally lamed. Makiko is greatly troubled and attempts to encourage her to speak with questions about the two of them. By looking at herself in a mirror, grandmother gradually begins to recognize herself again. This book deals with a topic rarely treated in picture books and offers a stimulus to discussion for children and their families. In order to illustrate the progress of grandmother's from confusion to self-rediscovery and also Makiko's feelings, the illustrator employs a daring, abstract style of painting. The prismatic imagery and dissolving colors are given expressive resolution thanks to the appropriate text. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 6
Mado, Michio (text/illus.)
Sorekara…
(And then?)
Tokyo: Dowaya, 1994. 160 p.
ISBN 4-924684-80-5
Children's poetry - Existence
In his newest book of poetry for children and adults the 85-year-old Andersen prizewinner Michio Mado turns his attention to things and creatures that are taken for granted and hardly ever consciously experienced, such as mosquitoes, ants, grass, wind, etc. Eveything in this world has a right to be here; because of their origins, every living thing is of equal value. Mado looks at creation not from the point of view a man but from that of the living beings themselves. Hence the reader make new discoveries in his poetry over and over Again. (7+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 7
Matsui, Tadashi (reteller)
Sekino, Kikuko (reteller)
Tan, Xiao Yong (illus.)
Yanmeizu to ryû
(Yanmeiz, a boy who fought a dragon)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1994. 40 p.
ISBN 4-8340-0245-4
Folk tale/China - Dragon -Abduction - Siblings - Peace - Wealth
A village boy born under miraculous circumstances sets off to rescue his sister from a dragon. His success brings peace and wealth to his village. The prize-winning Chinese illustrator Tan Xiao Yong contributes illustrations which combine traditional Indian ink and modern coloring on wet paper; inspite of their two- dimensionality they express spatial depth and physical weightiness. The strong, dynamic brushstrokes endow both the dragon and the protagonists, who are usually portrayed in the heroic poses of Asian theater, enormous liveliness. Alongside the impressive illustrations, which are outstanding examples of the singularity of the Asian art of painting, the painstakingly prepared text is rather reserved. (4+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 8
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Kuroi, Ken (illus.)
Neko no jimusho
(The Cat's Office)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1994. 36 p.
(Nihon no dôwameisakusen)
ISBN 4-03-963426-9
Cat - Bureaucracy - Discrimination
A satirical, fable-like tale about small-minded bureaucracy. Five elitist cats preside in an office where self-importance, intimidation and hypocrisy blossom. The author exposes the absurdity and folly of such everyday discrimination. In the end, unceremoniously, he lets a superior being in the figure of a lion to put an end to the whole business. The illustrator Ken Kuroi succeeds in giving expression to the realistic and the phantistic aspects of the text, a task which is especially difficult to do for the works of Kenji Miyazawa, the modern classic writer who holds a unique place in Japanese children's and youth literature. (14+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 10
Nasuda, Jun (text)
Yornogida, Yasuhiro (illus.)
Orefanto.- Nippon Zaemon shônenki
(The elephant. Notes about the young years of Nippon Zaemon)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994. 253 p.
ISBN 4-06-207251-3
Adventure - Friendship - Sincerity - Japan/Everyday life 18th century
In this suspenseful and enjoyable tale, a fictional historical novel, Nasuda skillfully weaves a historical persons and events into fictional plot. In the middle of the Edo era (mid-18th century) there was a famous robber. Nasuda's fictional account of his childhood is climaxed by an exciting encounter between an elephant and the little elephant driver from Annam. Life at the toll stations along the streets of this feudal social system are depicted in an informative and lively manner. Nasuda has adopted a new style here by writing some parts of the novel in the first person, thus making history more immediately present and directly appealing to the reader. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 11
Saragai, Tatsuya (text)
Hasegawa, Shûhei (illus.)
Bokusâ shigan
(The Boxers)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1994. 179 p.
(Kaiseisha Korekushon)
ISBN 4-03-744060-1
Growing up - Self-identity - Puberty/Boy
In these short stories five boys between the ages of 13 and 15 take leave of their childhood, each in his own way. One realizes that he must distance himself from his younger playmates, the second experiences the bitter reality of life through his own failure, the third is drawn into a dubious scheme of his father's, the fourth must take his mother's place in the work of the community, and the fifth experiences first love. All of them must try to deal with newly awakened feelings and a sense of self-discovery. Along the way, the foreign readers will get a glimpse into the everyday life of Japanese school children. This literary work, which is designed with a very original, eloquent cover, will leave the reader with a certain wistfulness. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 12
Senjû, Hiroshi (illus.)
Hoshi no furuyoni
(When stardust falls...)
Tokyo: Fuzambo, 1994. [36 ] p.
ISBN 4-572-00332-7
Stag - Nature - Adventure - Night - Lost
A young stag who lives in the woods with his parents gets lost one evening due to his fascination with a shooting star. Following the river in which the sparkling star is reflected, the young stag comes to an empty city and the a meadow. Only at dawn does he find his parents again. Hiroshi Senju, painting in the style of modern Japanese art, has created a wordless picture book in his own unique style. On the left side of each double-page spread there is nothing but a small map of the course being followed by the young stag. The visual interaction of map and illustration enables the observer to experience the spaciousness of nature and the stillness of the night in the same way the stag does. The fine distinction between sky, water and landscape imbues the entire picture book with a very delicate atmosphere. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1995 - 13
Yamashita, Haruo (text)
Murakami, Yasunari (illus.)
Ora, Ûtan!
(Hello, Ûtan!)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1994. 63 p.
(Ohanashi kânibaru 8)
ISBN 4-03-460080-2
Racial integration - School - Child/Foreigner - Difference - Friendship
The cultural diversity which is gradually arising in Japan due to the presence of guest workers precipitated the appearance of this didactically excellent children's book. A highly unconventional beginning reader, it deals with the integration of two new first- graders, a Japanese boy and a Spanish girl, into the class. The ways in which their two cultures differ is cleverly interwoven in the story in a precise and humorous narrative, which is supported by convincing illustrations. An interesting Japanese contribution to the topic of cultural integration. (6+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 1
Harada, Takehide (text/illus.)
Furanchesuko
(Francis of Assisi)
Tokyo: Suemori Books, 1992. [40] p.
ISBN 4-915777-04-9
Francis of Assisi - Christianity
The most important stations in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, who selflessly searched for his own path to God, are presented in a poem in this brief book. The concentrated, simple illustrations complement the plain text, and together they form a unity which radiates a lyrical-meditative atmosphere. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 2
Itō, Hiroshi (text/illus.)
Tonkachibōya
(The Boy with the Hammer)
Tokyo: Crayonhouse, 1994. [24 ] p.
ISBN 4-906379-48-6
Sound - Imagination - Visualization
While his father is repairing the dog house a young boy enjoys listening to the sound of the hammer while his eyes are closed. Suddenly he is overcome by the idea that a stranger has come from far away who could perform something funny or thrilling. After this surprising discovery, he tries to use the hammer himself - against the ground, a tree trunk, a metal guard rail, water, etc. The feelings and scenes which the boy associates with each individual tone are visualized in abstract pictures. This is a very original, playful picture book. (4+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 3
Kako, Satoshi (text/illus.)
Ningen
(Human Beings)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1995. 52 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1278-6
Origins of life - History of Mankind
»Man is a living creature and living creatures have their source in the universe.« Starting from this premise the author has created a highly vivid picture book about mankind and man's place in the universe. Beginning with the Big Bang he shows the origins and development of humans, the anatomy and the functions of individual organs as well as cultural and social behavior. He makes very clever use of the picture book format: texts and illustrations complement each other and convey in an easily understandable manner scientifically grounded information about mankind. (9+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 4
Kanouchi, Takuya (photos)
Yabuuchi, Masayuki (illus.)
Nakano, Masataka (cover and layout)
Otoshitanowa dare?
(Who Dropped It?)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1994. 40 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1260-3
Bird feathers
Using a bird feather which a boy finds in the woods children are told how they can collect and identify such feathers themselves. The instructions are embedded in a suspenseful story. Clear and aesthetic photographs give an impressive view of landscape, animals and feathers. This work was designed by a team of excellent specialists for nature and animal books and stands out from the usual information book due to its tasteful and playful manner. (7+)
(15th Yoshimura Akashiko Award for Science Books for Children, 1995)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 5
Kimura, Yūichi (text)
Abe, Hiroshi (illus.)
Arashi no yoruni
(On a Stormy Night)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994. [48] p.
(Ritoru 2)
ISBN 4-06-252852-5
Sympathy - Friendship - Antagonism
Can natural enemies become friends if they find each other likeable. Can opposites be overcome? These are the questions posed by this bitter-sweet comedy about a goat and a wolf who take refuge in the same hut during a storm night. Without knowing who the other really is, because they can see nothing in the darkness, they arrange to meet again. What will happen then?
(26th Kodansha Cultural Prize in Publishing for Picture Books, 1995; 42nd Sankei Cultural Prize for Children's Books & Publications - JR Prize, 1995)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 6
Kokaze, Sachi (text)
Ono, Kaoru (illus.)
Yubinukikōji no himitsu
(The Secret of Thimble Lane)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1994. 448 p.
ISBN 4-8340-0176-8
Happiness - Philosophy of life - Handicraft
When the button which his mother bought from a peddlar is sewn on his coat, an eleven-year-old boy is magically transported to a world where the present and the past meet and he learns the many life-stories of the residents of Thimble Lane. This is a fascinating tale of fantasy about the secret of the five bottoms from the hoof of the unicorn. The author incorporates in it her sense of value about the things which a person can create with an upright dedication and patience thanks to his skills as a craftsman. (11+)
(32rd Noma Award for Juvenile Literature - Prize for New Authors, 1994)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 7
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Kuroi, Ken (illus.)
Kumo no shingō. Īhatobu shigashû
(The Signal of the Clouds. Stories and Pictures from »Īhatobu«)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1995. 48 p.
ISBN 4-03-016230-4
Universe - Nature - Buddhism - Landscape/ Northern Japan - Imagination - Poetry
»Îhatobu« is a fictitious place in the soul of this poet, a practicing Buddhist and agricultural expert, who is deeply rooted in his home region, the Iwate prefect in northern Japan. The 21 poems in which he describes the heavens, clouds, mountains, snow, etc. of his home, are distinguished by an singular language. By employing terms from Buddhism and natural science, he creates an imaginary, unique lyrical world and captivates the reader. The spacious lyrical images open up the universal world of poetry. (14+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 8
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Ise, Hideko (illus.)
Suisenzuki no yokka
(The Fourth Day of the Month of the Narcissus)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1995. 36 p.
(Nihon no dôwa meisakusen)
ISBN 4-03-963440-3
Snow - Spirits
In the mountains of northern Japan the "4th day of the month of narcissus" is the day that the evil old snow woman lets her apprentices, snow boys and snow wolves have a fling. A child hurries home through the forest. The blue skies change and the voice of the snow woman can be detected in the approaching snow storm... The author develops this life-threatening natural phenomenon into a fairy-tale like story while the illustrator Hideko Ise gives it an artist's interpretation. She transforms the appearance of snow into the wild activities of snow spirits in cold and ice. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 9
Mizuki, Shigeru (text/illus.)
Emaki ehon. Yōkai no mori
(Emaki Picture Book. The Forest of Demons, Spirits and Ghosts)
Tokyo: Kogumasha, 1995.
ISBN 4-7721-0129-2
Demons - Spirits - Ghosts - Oral tradition/Japan - Folk beliefs/Japan
While making an excursion a young boy and girl enter the forest kingdom of demons and spirits. In a very entertaining manner his 280cm long fold-out book presents their helter-skelter encounters with 170 figures and beings who have their origins in Japanese folk beliefs and Buddhist beliefs of the soul and the afterlife, or were created by the author himself. The ethnological background of these figures iscommented upon in a supplemental booklet. (5+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 10
Mori, Eto (text)
Uchū no minashigo
(The Orphans of the Universe)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994. 206 p.
ISBN 4-06-207334-X
Willpower - Self-assertion - Individuality - Friendship
Fourteen-year-old Yōko and her younger brother hate to be bored and are always thinking up new adventurous games. So they come up with the idea to climb up on the rooftop secretly one night. For them and their two classmates who join them this represents a challenge to break out of their own dissatisfaction. Then as all four of them are sitting on the roof, they realize that they have to shine through their own power like the stars above, which do not let themselves be gobbled up by the darkness of the universe. The author makes the case for willpower and individuality as a way for young people to find their path in life. But they need friends as a counterweight. (12+)
(33rd Noma Award for Juvenile Literature Prize for New Authors, 1995)

Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 11
Nashiki, Kaho
Nishi no majo ga shinda
(The Witch in the West is Dead)
Tokyo: Nire shuppan, 1994. 205 p.
ISBN 4-931266-16-9
Willpower - Autonomy - Grandmother/ Granddaughter - Love - Witch - School
Thirteen-year-old Mai is having so much trouble at school that she finally refuses to go anymore. As a result, her parents send her to stay with her grandmother, who lives alone in the country. She is a silent, strong-minded person for whom Mai has always had great respect. The grandmother gives Mai »witch lessons« in self-discipline. The simple life in natural surroundings and her grandmother's understanding love help this sensitive girl to achieve stability and autonomy. This is a stirring story, which addresses the current problem of pupils wanting to cop out of school. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 12
Nasu, Masamoto (text)
Nishimura, Shigeo (illus.)
E de yomu Hiroshima no gembaku
(The Atomic Bomb of Hiroshima in Pictures)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1995. 84 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1265-4
Hiroshima - Atomic bomb - World War 2 - Nuclear Physics - Peace movement
The title tells the reader straight away that this is no easy reading. But whoever opens up this over-sized, oblong picture book will be overwhelmed by the splendid interaction between text and illustration and by their expressiveness. The reader will be filled with a desire to learn more about this event. The text provides a wealth of information about the Second World War, the atomic bomb, radiation damage, the world-wide escalation of nuclear armaments after Hiroshima, current issues about atomic energy and about the anti-nuclear energy and peace movements. This broad and diverse subject matter is given meticulous treatment, interspersed with drawings, tables and graphic art work to make it easily understandable by anyone. Parallel to the very well-structured text segments scenes of life in the old castle town of Hiroshima before, during and after the bomb was dropped, are depicted in full-page illustrations. In all these pictures floats the soul of a victim of the atomic bomb, accompaning the reader along the »stations of this ordeal.« With their diversity and simplicity the illustrations touch the emotions through their diversity and simplicity, allowing each reader a very personal experience. This informative book includes only drawing, setting it apart from most other documentary works based on photographs. (9+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 13
Ochi, Noriko (text)
Masai, Kei (illus.)
Terifuriyama no somemonoya
(The Dyer of Terifuri Mountain)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1995. 138 p.
(Wandârando 12)
ISBN 4-03-540120-X
Colors - Plants - Nature - Japan/Fairy Tale
During an artistic crisis a young man takes refuge in the mountains in order to begin anew his work, colors and weaving. His efforts to win the beautiful colors of nature from plant sources are intensified when he makes the acquaintance of a young girl and her father, the »dyer of Terifuri Mountain«, who has a wonderous way of performing his craft. Through this encounter and by experiencing a festival of the mountain inhabitants in moonlight he develops his very own art of coloring which makes him famous. Finally he himself becomes known as the »dyer of Terifuri Mountain.« This fictitious fairy tale is marked by a sensibility to nature, the Japanese aesthetic, and illustrated with graceful, simple pictures. (10+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 14
Ōta, Daihachi (text/illus.)
Būtan
(Butan, the Pig)
Tokyo: Kogumasha, 1995. 34 p.
ISBN 4-7721-0128-4
Friendship - Greed - Pig - Exploitation
Colorful, earthy pictures tell about Ben and his unusually large pig, Butan. Every-one wants to see it - people from the village, from the city, from the newspaper, from television. It is the main attraction of a show in the city. For the closing celebration, Butan is to be slaughtered and Ben is offered a considerable sum of money for him. Completely enraged , Ben returns home, and from then on Butan helps out in the fields and entertains the children. Behind this naive story there is a bitter truth to be found about exploitation. (4+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 15
Ozawa, Toshio (reteller)
Akaba, Suekichi (illus.)
Nihon no mukashibanashi. Zen 5 kan
(Japanese Folk Tales. Vols. 1-5)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1995. Each 368 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1324/5/6/7/8
Folk tales/Japan - Ainu/Oral tradition - Folk tales/Okinawa
The 301 tales collected here by the leading folk-tale researcher in Japan, T. Ozawa, give a comprehensive picture of Japanese folk tale tradition. In order to give todays's children this rich store of tales in its original form, this edition has been edited with a view to the ethnographical background and literary style of oral folktales. Furthermore, the local dialects have been trans-formed into standard Japanese and the rhythm of speech adapted to enable smooth-flowing story-telling. The tales are grouped according to the four seasons and excellently illustrated with pictures by the Hans Christian Andersen prize-winner Suekichi Akaba. (4+) ☆ ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 16
Satō, Makiko (text)
Ozawa, Masumi (illus.)
Watashi no himitsu no hanazono
(My Secret Garden)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1994. 270 p.
(Kaiseisha korekushon)
ISBN 4-03-744080-6
Illness/Everyday life - Nature - Garden
Written in a very concise, atmospherically dense manner, this autobiographical story describes in 21 episodes the everyday life and psyche of an 8-yearold girl who suffers from a serious case of asthma. Just as in her favorite book »The Secret Garden« by Burnett, the garden plays a central role in the life of this protagonist. It represents happiness and life even though her experiences of nature summon up conflicting feelings due to her illness. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 17
Segi, Shinichi (text)
Kayama, Matazō (ed.)
Kokoro ni nokoru Meigabijutsukan. Zen 5kan.
(The Gallery of Famous Pictures. Vols. 1-5)
Tokyo: Kin no hoshisha, 1995. Each 48 p.
ISBN 4-323-02051/52/53/54/55-X
Painting - Children - Animal - Nature - Love - Pleasure -Mourning - Imagination
These five volumes contain all together 216 famous paintings from artists all over the world. The volumes are dedicated to the following themes which children are most concerned with: 1: Father, mother and child; 2: The world of animals; 3: Beauty and grace in nature; 4: Love, joy and mourning; 5: Wonderous world of dreams. This makes it easier for children to enter into the world of artistic painting. Short commentaries describe the artists, their works and the historical context. In volumes two and three the differences between the painting techniques and styles in European and Japanese art are given special emphasis. (11+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 18
Tang, Yaming (text)
Yu, Dawu (illus.)
Saiyūki
(The Journey to the West)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1994. 69 p.
ISBN 4-06-132207-9
China - Buddhism - Ape - Demons - Adventure
The fantasy- comedy »Hsi-yu chi«, written in 1592 and recounting the travels of the monk Xuanzang to India in the 7th century, has been retold in this impressive artistic picture book. The dynamic protagonist of this classic Chinese work is the apeking, Sun Wukong, who was born from a stone. Endowed with supernatural powers, he even pushes his way into heaven where he is turned into a stone by Buddha. After 500 years he is freed by another monk whom he accompanies and helps to fight against demons who hinder believers making their pilgramage. This is a selection of the most popular episodes from the complete work consisting of 100 chapters, each accompanied by a short preface. (6+) ☆ ☼
(42nd Sankei Cultural Award for Children's Books & Publications - JR Prize, 1995)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1996 - 19
Yosano, Akiko (text)
Takabe, Seiichi (illus.)
Kingyo no otsukai
(The Gold Fish Couriers)
Tokyo: Kakusha, 1994. [24] p.
ISBN 4-906268-61-7
Goldfish - Help - Humor
Three brothers and sisters of a Tokyo family send their gold fish as couriers to another quarter of town. The fish are able to walk and speak like people, but possess all the characteristics of a fish. Thus they encounter all kinds of difficulties along the way, but are repeatedly assisted by friendly people. The notable illustrations by Seiichi Takabe for this naive-absurd story for children by the wellknown poet Akiko Yosano (1878-1942) contain a certain surreal humor in a commercial art style that was common in Japan at the beginning of this century. (5+) ☆ ☼

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 1
Funakoshi, Kanna (text)
Izawa, Yôji (illus.)
Sorani
(In the sky)
Tokyo: Suemori Books, 1995. [36] p.
ISBN 4-915777-13-8
Balloon - Loss - Treasure - Sky
A young girl accidentally lets loose the string of her treasured new red balloon and runs after it for a long time, trying to catch it. When it disappears at last, high in the sky, she suddenly feels very lonely. At sunset the sun turns the western horizon red, in the sky the crescent of the moon shines and the stars glow - the treasures of the universe. The very ingenious layout, in which both pictures and text are merely suggestive, inspire the imagination. In spite of the book's small format, the author conveys the boundless-ness of the sky and the familiarity of the universe. (6+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 2 (1)
Funazaki, Katsuhiko (text)
Akaba, Suekichi (illus.)
Nihon no shinwa. Zen 6kan. 1. Kuni no hajimari
(Japanese Myths. Vols. 1-6. 1. Origins of Japan)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1995. [32] p.
ISBN 4-251-00821-9
Japan/Myth
Japan's mystical world of gods and goddesses according to the oldest extant chronicle, the »Kojiki« (Records of Ancient Matters), is retold here in a concise narrative, accompanied by painterly, highly aesthetic illustrations. The Kojiki, which were collected and written down in 712 at the wish of the Genmei Tenno, include both the origin myths of Japan and the genealogy of many gods and goddesses and their deeds. The illustrator Akaba, who is especially known for his Japanese painting style, bases his impressive, authentic pictures for the most important episodes in this epic on ethnological and cultural historical research. Especially striking is the use of decorative elements, such as tender blossoms, in ominous scenes, in order to create a harmonious balance. (8+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 2 (2)
Funazaki, Katsuhiko (text)
Akaba, Suekichi (illus.)
Nihon no shinwa. Zen 6kan. 2. Ama no iwato
(Japanese Myths. Vols. 1-6. 2. The heavenly cave of Ama no iwato)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1995. [32] p.
ISBN 4-251-00822-7
Japan/Myth
Japan's mystical world of gods and goddesses according to the oldest extant chronicle, the »Kojiki« (Records of Ancient Matters), is retold here in a concise narrative, accompanied by painterly, highly aesthetic illustrations. The Kojiki, which were collected and written down in 712 at the wish of the Genmei Tenno, include both the origin myths of Japan and the genealogy of many gods and goddesses and their deeds. The illustrator Akaba, who is especially known for his Japanese painting style, bases his impressive, authentic pictures for the most important episodes in this epic on ethnological and cultural historical research. Especially striking is the use of decorative elements, such as tender blossoms, in ominous scenes, in order to create a harmonious balance. (8+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 2 (3)
Funazaki, Katsuhiko (text)
Akaba, Suekichi (illus.)
Nihon no shinwa. Zen 6kan. 3. Yamata no orochi
(Japanese Myths. Vols. 1-6. 3. The eight-headed dragon)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1995. [32] p.
ISBN 4-251-00823-5
Japan/Myth
Japan's mystical world of gods and goddesses according to the oldest extant chronicle, the »Kojiki« (Records of Ancient Matters), is retold here in a concise narrative, accompanied by painterly, highly aesthetic illustrations. The Kojiki, which were collected and written down in 712 at the wish of the Genmei Tenno, include both the origin myths of Japan and the genealogy of many gods and goddesses and their deeds. The illustrator Akaba, who is especially known for his Japanese painting style, bases his impressive, authentic pictures for the most important episodes in this epic on ethnological and cultural historical research. Especially striking is the use of decorative elements, such as tender blossoms, in ominous scenes, in order to create a harmonious balance. (8+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 2 (4)
Funazaki, Katsuhiko (text)
Akaba, Suekichi (illus.)
Nihon no shinwa. Zen 6kan. 4. Inaba no shirousagi
(Japanese Myths. Vols. 1-6. 4. The white hare of Inaba)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1995. [32] p.
ISBN 4-251-00824-3
Japan/Myth
Japan's mystical world of gods and goddesses according to the oldest extant chronicle, the »Kojiki« (Records of Ancient Matters), is retold here in a concise narrative, accompanied by painterly, highly aesthetic illustrations. The Kojiki, which were collected and written down in 712 at the wish of the Genmei Tenno, include both the origin myths of Japan and the genealogy of many gods and goddesses and their deeds. The illustrator Akaba, who is especially known for his Japanese painting style, bases his impressive, authentic pictures for the most important episodes in this epic on ethnological and cultural historical research. Especially striking is the use of decorative elements, such as tender blossoms, in ominous scenes, in order to create a harmonious balance. (8+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 2 (5)
Funazaki, Katsuhiko (text)
Akaba, Suekichi (illus.)
Nihon no shinwa. Zen 6kan. 5. Susanoo to Ookuninushi
(Japanese Myths. Vols. 1-6. 5. Susanoo and Ookuninushi <gods>)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1995. [32] p.
ISBN 4-251-00825-1
Japan/Myth
Japan's mystical world of gods and goddesses according to the oldest extant chronicle, the »Kojiki« (Records of Ancient Matters), is retold here in a concise narrative, accompanied by painterly, highly aesthetic illustrations. The Kojiki, which were collected and written down in 712 at the wish of the Genmei Tenno, include both the origin myths of Japan and the genealogy of many gods and goddesses and their deeds. The illustrator Akaba, who is especially known for his Japanese painting style, bases his impressive, authentic pictures for the most important episodes in this epic on ethnological and cultural historical research. Especially striking is the use of decorative elements, such as tender blossoms, in ominous scenes, in order to create a harmonious balance. (8+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 2 (6)
Funazaki, Katsuhiko (text)
Akaba, Suekichi (illus.)
Nihon no shinwa. Zen 6kan. 6. Umisachi Yamasachi
(Japanese Myths. Vols. 1-6. 6. Umisachi and Yamasachi <gods>)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1995. [32] p.
ISBN 4-251-00826-X
Japan/Myth
Japan's mystical world of gods and goddesses according to the oldest extant chronicle, the »Kojiki« (Records of Ancient Matters), is retold here in a concise narrative, accompanied by painterly, highly aesthetic illustrations. The Kojiki, which were collected and written down in 712 at the wish of the Genmei Tenno, include both the origin myths of Japan and the genealogy of many gods and goddesses and their deeds. The illustrator Akaba, who is especially known for his Japanese painting style, bases his impressive, authentic pictures for the most important episodes in this epic on ethnological and cultural historical research. Especially striking is the use of decorative elements, such as tender blossoms, in ominous scenes, in order to create a harmonious balance. (8+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 3
Inada, Kazuko
Tsutsui, Etsuko
Nihon no mukashibanashi 1-3
(Japanese Folktales, Vols. 1-3)
Tokyo: Kogumasha, 1996. Each 192 p.
ISBN 4-7721-9019-8/-9021-X/-9022-8
Japan/Folk tales/Anthology
This is a collection of well-known and less wellknown folk tales which have been meticulously reworked by the folktale researcher Inada and the experienced storyteller Tsutsui. It is especially well-suited for reading aloud. Expressions from the various regions of Japan, though they could present readers and listeners with problems, have to a certain degree been retained in the dialogues, sayings and in the forewords and afterwords, in order to render the original tales in as authentic an atmosphere as possible. (9+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 4
Itô, Hiroshi (text/illus.)
Daijôbu daijôbu
(It's alright, you'll survive)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1995. 31 p.
(Ritoru; 13)
ISBN 4-06-252863-0
Grandfather - Grandchild - Protection - Wisdom - Encouragement
»Daijôbu« means »It's not so bad« or »It will be alright«. This is what a grandfather always tells his young grandson to soothe and encourage him when he has a problem with himself or the rest of the world. The grandfather has always been a grand playmate and passed along his knowledge and wisdom about the ways of the world, but now he is very old and lying in the hospital. The young boy wants in turn to encourage and comfort his beloved grandfather, to help him get well. This portrays a perfect image of the relationship between generations, in text and in tender, humorous illustrations. (7+)
(27th Kodansha Cultural Prize in Publishing for Picture Books 1996)

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 5
Katayama, Ken (text/illus.)
Kokkochan no kakashi
(Kokko and her scarecrow)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1996. [32] p.
ISBN 4-8340-1363-4
Scarecrow - Worry
The kind of happy childhood that children can have when adults find practical ways to understand their needs is shown in this picture book. Little Kokko, her brother and father have created a scarecrow that is actually put to use by a farmwife. The scarecrow is often on Kokko's mind, as she wonders will it survive the changes of weather, will it still be able to keep guard over the high stalks of rice and vegetables and what will happen to it after the harvest. The farmwife, standing for the author, quietly anticipates the child's cares and delights by caring for the scarecrow. In the powerful illustrations the figures are very much present, and the warm, earthy colors exude vitality and security. (4+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 6
Kitamura, Kenji (text)
Ishikura, Kinji (illus.)
Ginyanma tobu sora
(The sky where dragonflys fly)
Tokyo: Komine shoten, 1995. 327 p.
ISBN 4-338-10707-3
Japan/China/War - Militarism - Childhood memories - Everyday life
This autobiographical novel documents childhood memories of the year 1940 when an escalation of the long-term conflict between Japan and China had led to militarism, even in the schools and the playgrounds. Goods are becoming scarce throughout the country, but the children nonetheless find ways to live and play as children do, even in times of war. They believe the lies they heard, tell lies themselves, sometimes unhappily, sometimes regretfully. They are afraid, but they also become acquainted with goodness and this gives them courage in difficult situations. This subtle antiwar book, which will help to deal with the past, is written in a naturalistic style that allows the reader to find his own critical approach to war and its side-effects. (11+) ☆
(36th Japanese Association of Writers for Children Prize 1996)

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 7
Lee, Sang Keum (text)
Hoashi, Jirô (illus.)
Hambun no furusato. Watashi ga Nihon ni itatoki no koto
(My other homeland. My childhood in Japan)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1995 (1993). 432 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1180-1
Japan/Koreans - Emigration - Family life - Discrimination - Homeland - Autobiography
When Japan was defeated in 1945, nearly 1.6 million Koreans returned to Korean homeland within a year. Among them was the author, 15 years old then, who had been born and raised in Japan. Her parents were both victims of the Japanese colonialists. In describing her family life in Japan the author shows great respect for her mother, who despite discrimination and bullying never lost her patriotic pride and human dignity. Though everyday life was trying, there were still moments when the author met upright, honest Japanese or found comfort in nature. So she still considers Japan to be half of her homeland. This work casts light on the questions of homeland and of injustice toward other peoples. The sensitively designed cover illustration with typical Korean objects and the sparse, realistic illustrations accompany the text. (13+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 8
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Sasameya, Yuki (illus.)
Gadorufu no yuri
(The lilies of the travelling Gadorufu)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1996. 32 p.
ISBN 4-03-963680-5
Lily - Love - Dream
Children as well as adults still enjoy the works of the modern classic writer Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933), but also many illustrators enjoy the challenge of portraying his imaginative world in their own way, because his unique use of language is very stimulating. This picture book is an example of this phenomenon. The story tells of a momentary, intensive love of a traveller for the white lilies in a garden, which during a flash of lightening appear to him so proud and majestic. Sensuality and dreams are presented most impressively in these colorframed, lyrical pictures. (13+)
(Shôgakukan Award for Illustration)

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 9
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Murakami, Tsutomu (illus.)
Oinomori to Zarumori, Nusutomori
(The Wolf's Forest, the Basket Forest, and the Thieves' Forest)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1996. 36 p.
(Nihon no dôwa meisakusen)
ISBN 4-03-963650-3
Settlers - Nature spirits - Mountains - Forest - Harmony - Modern fairy tale
A group of farmer families begins to cultivate a wasteland surrounded by four mountains. Their efforts are rewarded, but over the course of time strange things occur - wolves capture their children, a mountain spirit steals their farming tools, a black giant from the mountains takes away their millet. Miyazawa (1896-1933), one of the most favourite modern-day classical writers for children and adults, takes the reader back to the earliest settlements of his homeland in northern Japan at the foot of the Iwate Mountain and shows how the mountains, forests and people lived alongside one another. The carefully composed paintings, with their somewhat stylized and fragmentary, finely outlined elements, highlight the engaging comical aspects of these fabulous tales. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 10
Mizukami, Tsutomu (text)
Tsukasa, Osamu (illus.)
Nihon Ryôiki. Tôi mukashi no fushigina monogatari
(Miracle tales from old Japan. Buddhist moral tales)
Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1995. 198 p.
ISBN 4-00-113134-X
Japan /Folk tale- Buddhism - Retribution - Belief - Moral
Japan's oldest collection of Setsuwa (Buddhist moral tales), »Nihon Ryôiki« (also Reiiki), was written down between 810-824 by the monk Kyôkai. These legends describe amazing events which occur in connection with the Buddhist principle of causality (the consequences of good or evil deeds). The 41 stories selected and adapted here for young readers depict, for instance, people who are reborn as animals, or a dead man who is sent back alive to the world of the living by the ruler of hell, or a talking skull. The folk tales and matters of belief are presented in a didactic manner, having originally served to teach listeners how to live in harmony with one another. For today's reader their appeal lies less in the religious content than in the concise, clear and vivid descriptions and the elements of fantasy. In the end one realizes that the human nature has not essentially changed and that death is never far removed from life. (13+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 11
Saitô, Hiroshi (text)
Takabatake, Jun (illus.)
Gempei no kaze. Shirakomaki
(The storm between the tribes of Minamoto and Taira. The story of the fabulous white fox)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1996. 222 p.
ISBN 4-03-744210-8
Fox/Man/Transformation - Self-knowledge - Hero - War - Meaninglessness - Japan/Middle Ages
Driven away by its mother, a young fox makes its own way in the world. Having learned the art of shape-changing from hermits, he goes to live among people. As a man the protagonist becomes caught up in historical events of the Middle Ages (12th century) and encounters famous war heros. From a cool and distanced perspective, he analyzes the deeds of those heros, which appear to some extent meaningless from today's point of view. This novel is a combination of several genres, combining elements of historical narration, fantasy, folk tale and Bildungsroman. Sequels are to follow. (12+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 12
Sawada, Toshiki (text/illus.)
Afurika no oto. A story of West African drum & dance
(The sounds of Africa. A story of West African drum & dance)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1996. [35] p.
ISBN 4-06-207681-0
West Africa - Drum - Everyday life - Nature - Harmony
A goat-skin drum and dance are essential elements of west African culture. The making of the drum and its many uses in the everyday life of the African tribesmen is shown in this picture book, which uses the typical colors of the landscape. These pictures show how closely the lives of these peoples are related to their natural surroundings. (4+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 13
Sueyoshi, Akiko (text)
Fujikawa, Hideyuki (illus.)
Chi to ushio no ô
(The king of the land and the sea)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1996. 414 p.
ISBN 4-06-208015-X
Japan/Myth <Motif>- Quest - Love - Curse - Woman/Serpent/Transformation - Reconciliation - Gods
Saru, an orphaned boy travelling with a theater troupe of dwarfs, is asked by the priestess-queen of the land of Amaguni to find her daughter, Mio, who had been set out to die because of her weak physical condition. During his search, Saru also discovers the key to his own ancestry. After setting off on his quest, accompanied by a brave and clever dwarf girl, he encounters a tribal chief whose wife has placed a curse on their daughter, Nagisa, causing her to turn into a serpent every night, until the curse is lifted. To fulfill this double quest, he travels all the way to the bottom of the ocean, the kingdom of eternal life, where he finds Mio and Nagisa's mother, the daughter of the god of the sea. He succeeds in overcoming many difficulties and restoring harmony in both worlds. In this turbulent story, which contains elements of Japanese mythology, the author focuses in particular on the emotions of humans and gods regarding love. Through the detailed and colorful narrative, the reader is transported into an engrossing world of ancient times. This novel is a delightful rarity in the Japanese fantasy genre. (12+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 14
Tomiyasu, Yôko (text)
Iino, Kazuyoshi (illus.)
Chiisana yamagami Suzuna-hime
(Princess Suzuna, the young mountain spirit)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1996. 134 p.
ISBN 4-03-528310-X
Nature god - Father/ Daughter - Independence - Challenge - Promise
Princess Suzuna wants to break out of her sheltered life and finally have at least one mountain to rule herself. Her father, the great mountain who rules over all mountains and looks after all animals and nature, decides to test the abilities of his daughter. On one day she must give all the leaves on the mountain their autumn colors so that the animals can get ready for their winter sleep. This cheery, modern fairy tale, with its clearly drawn characters, is told in a refreshing voice. The headstrong, spontaneous and energetic protagonist, as she is shown in the illustrations, makes the book especially appealing. In three sequel volumes, the princess is given further challenges to deal with. (8+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 15
Uji, Isao (text/illus.)
Tententen yukiakari
(Toot, toot, toot .... in the snow)
Tokyo: Shikosha, 1995. [24] p.
Street-car - Snow - Signal - City-landscape
A street-car passes by scenery which is shown as in snapshot photos. »Toot, toot, toot...« sounds the clear signal at the crossings, breaking the stillness of the snowy surroundings. Animals run across the tracks, street workers climb in a ditch, a thief clambers over a wall, a man is heading home. The repetition of the onomatopoetic words for the signal sound convey the passage of the street-car. The steadily falling snow and gentle reflections of light makes the reader conscious of the stillness of the snowbound city inspite of the lively movements of the characters. (3+)
(43rd Sankei Award for Children's Books & Publications [JR-Prize] 1996)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1997 - 16
Yumoto, Kazumi
Haru no orugan
(The organ in spring)
Tokyo: Tokuma shoten, 1995. 240 p.
ISBN 4-19-860250-6
Feelings - Growing up - Family conflict - Siblings - Grandfather
Twelve-year-old Tomomi is about to enter Middle School, but she feels fairly indifferent about it and cannot enjoy her spring holidays. She is dissatisfied with herself and the conflicts of her parents and with her neighbor weigh upon her mind. Her grandfather's interest in the family heirlooms seems equally senseless. The old, defective organ which her grandfather finds in the closet symbolizes the mental state of the protagonist, her passage from childhood to adolescence, but also her grandfather's silent wish to bring the family, which seems about to disintegrate, back together again. (12+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 1
Fujimaki, Kumiko (text)
Tsuchida, Yoshiharu (illus.)
Fushigina yukidaruma
(The wonderous snowman)
Tokyo: Kin no hoshisha, 1996. 92 p.
(Shin tomodachi bunko; 9)
ISBN 4-323-02009-0
Father/Son - Longing - Help - Snowman
The father of seven-year old Fûta is missing in the mountains. Then one day his mother falls sick from overwork. To get her some medicine, Fûta goes into the village alone at night. Suddenly there is a snowman behind him, a protector. His love for his parents, longing for his father, the childlike fear of darkness and his encounter with the at first mysterious snowman who becomes more and more like his father - all these realistic and phantastic elements work together to form a sensitive story and a beginning reader of literary quality. (7+) ☼

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 2
Gunji, Nanae (text)
Orimo, Kyôko (illus.)
Beruna no me wa Nanae san no me
(Beruna's eyes are Nanae's eyes)
Tokyo: Doshinsha, 1996. (2nd ed.) 36 p.
(Ehon. Kodomo no hiroba)
ISBN 4-494-00872-9
Blind woman - Seeing-eye dog - Everyday life - Prejudice
After strenuous exercises to learn how to handle a seeing-eye dog, Nanae finally gets her own dog named Beruna. This expands her possibilities to take part in a normal everyday life considerably. But with her large dog she also encounters prejudice and lack of understanding. The problems of blind people in society are explained for children in an easily understandable way in this narrative picture book with colorful collage illustrations. (6+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 3
Hirokawa, Ryûich (text/photos)
Kawada, Etsuko (text)
Ryûhei no mirai. Eizu to tatakau 19sai
(Ryûei's future. A 19-year old's battle against AIDS)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1996. (9th ed.) 112 p.
ISBN 4-06-207517-2
HIV - Hemophiliac - Public protest - Public information - Will to live
Ryûei has suffered since birth from hemophilia and became infected with HIV through an imported blood serum. After accepting this twist of fate, he began to protest against the responsible institutions who caused this medical damage through carelessness. He makes public appearances, especially for young audiences, in order to inform them and improve the negative image of AIDS patients. The photojournalist Hirokawa has documented Ryûei's activities in excellent photos, enabling the tremendously constructive attitude of this 19-year old boy to make a strong impression on readers. (13+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 4
Iizawa, Kôtarô (comp.)
Ajia sono hi sono hi
(Asia day by day)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan, 1997. 172 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1471-1
Asia - Culture - Mankind - Nature - Life
Since 1976 the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for Unesco (ACCU) has organized an annual photography competition to promote the use of photography and to further mutual understanding and friendship in its member countries. The jubilee edition of the 20th competition with the motto »To feel Asia is to know Asia« encompasses 163 photos which were taken by amateur photographers in Asian countries between 1986 and 1996. They give a direct glimpse into the diversity of this part of the world. This photodocumentation (with texts in Japanese and English) can be recommended as an excellent book for use in schools, libraries and also families. (7+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 5
Kanzawa, Toshiko (text)
Horiuchi, Seiichi (illus.)
Gin no honoo no kuni
(The land of the silvery flames)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1997. (Improved ed.) 372 p.
(Fukuinkan sôsaku dôwa shirîzu)
ISBN 4-8340-1439-8
Life/Death - Justice - Survival - Reindeer - Wolf - Power struggle
After pronouncing a magic formula in fun, a brother and sister are suddenly torn out of their everyday lives. They find themselves in »the far north« of a fictitious country where a power struggle has erupted between the reindeer and the wolves. In accord with an ancient saying, these two figures are able to restore peace. In this dualistic story about life and survival, told in a rich language, the author deals with the issue of natural justice, i.e. the killing of other living creatures for the sake of one's own survival - where the death of one means life to another. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 6
Kimishima, Hisako (text)
Ono, Kaoru (illus.)
Gin no udewa
(The silver armband)
Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1997. [40] p.
ISBN 4-00-110635-3
China/Tales - Cinderella
The oldest version of the fairy tale motif »Cendrillon« can be dated back to the 9th century in China, i.e. 800 years earlier than the well-known versions retold by Perrault and Basile. The sinologist Kimishima, whose area of specialization is fairy tales, retells a version known among the Yi ethnic group, and Ono supplements the text with ethnologically and culturally authentic illustrations. Unlike the more familiar versions, a silver armband takes on the function of the golden slipper, and after her marriage the heroine must first die and come to life again before finally achieving happiness, helped in this version by a cow and a magpie. (8+) ☆ ☼

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 7
Minamimoto, Shigeru (text/illus.)
Boku wa chiisana shiroi fune
(I am a little white ship)
Tokyo: Shikosha, 1996. [46] p.
Ship - Happiness - Modesty - Philosophy of life
Everyday the little ship Chiro brings children from the outlying islands to kindergarten on the large island. Sometimes it dreams of being a luxurious passenger ship, but the pleasures it has in the lively children, the screeching seagulls and its fellow ships make it so happy that Chiro can enjoy its peaceful life and security. Following his own personal philosophy of life, the author presents the happiness of modest individuals. The idyllic pictures with gentle outlines and harmonious colors convey to readers a kind of healing strength. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 8
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Tôyama, Shigetoshi (illus.)
Otsuberu to zô
(Otsuberu and the elephant)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1997. 40 p.
(Nihon no dôwa meisakusen)
ISBN 4-03-963690-2
Big landowner - Exploitation - Solidarity - Justice
A great white elephant comes from the forest to work for the big landowner, Otsuberu. He mercilessly makes the naive, hard-working giant work himself to bone, until - nearly exhausted - the elephant calls upon his friends of the forest to free him. Highly venerated in Buddhist teachings, the white elephant plays a symbolic role in this modern fairy tale, set in earlier times, about justice, freedom and the conflict between landowners and peasants. The landscape of India is impressively rendered in oil painting illustrations. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 9
Moriyama, Miyako (text)
Sano, Yôko (illus.)
Mahô tsukai no kurisumasu
(The sorceress' Christmas)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1997. [24] p.
(Akane sôsaku ehon; 38)
ISBN 4-251-03038-9
Sorceress - Jealousy - Metamorphosis - Saint Nicholas - Christmas - Love - Caring
Love and gift-giving is a favorite theme in Christmas stories. The sorceress is jealous of Saint Nicholas because he is beloved among children, so she tries to interfere with his good deeds. She turns herself into a Santa Claus and creates presents for the children through sorcery. But the children don't react as she had hoped and she is deeply disappointed. Full of anger, she turns herself into a little girl and, much to her surprise, receives caring attention and a gift from the old saint. This fully new experience makes her very happy at last. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 10
Sasô, Yôko (text)
Yamada, Naito (illus.)
Bokura no saitê no natsu
(Our spoiled summer)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1997. 166 p.
(Wakuwaku raiburarî)
ISBN 4-06-195684-1
Friendship - Family conflict
Punished for playing a dangerous game at school, two boys must spend their holidays cleaning the school's swimming pool. Their summer holidays seem to be ruined, except that their forced labor gives them the opportunity to become friends and also get to know each other's brothers and sisters better. In this way each of them gains insight into the problems of another family and learns how to recognize what is important in life. These attractive main characters, open and honest teenagers, are vividly portrayed by the author in a casual, readable style. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 11
Satô, Takako (text)
Harada, Takehide (illus.)
Iguanakun no ojamana mainichi
(Day for day with our troublesome iguana)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1997. 263 p.
(Kaiseisha otanoshimi kurabu)
ISBN 4-03-610110-2
Green iguana - House pet - Gift - Family - Everyday life
Unfortunate circumstances force Juri and her parents to take in a iguana. The daily care they must give to this expensive and time-consuming house guest, which lives a quiet and seemingly carefree existence in its own green dreamworld, brings about a change in their consciousness. In spite of the financial burdens it creates, they are able to free themselves from their predicament. This is a crazy, entertaining family story with which readers living in a hectic and stress-filled world will be able to identify and enjoy for relaxation. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 12
Suemori, Chieko (text)
Tsuo, Michiko (illus.)
Papa niwa tomodachi ga takusan ita
(Papa had many friends)
Tokyo: Suemori Books, 1995. [38] p.
ISBN 4-915777-14-6
Father - Death - Grief - Sympathy - Role model
How do children cope with the death of a parent? This picture book attempts to give an answer. The sudden death of a family's father was an unbelievable shock for both his wife and his two sons. Retreating from the world, the mother does nothing but listen to her husband's favorite music, while the boys try on his pullovers, seeking contact with him in that way. As the boys visit his workplace and become acquainted with a part of his world they had not known before, they discover a fully new image of their father. His co-workers, energetic and fully involved in their work, help the unhappy boys to overcome their grief. The father with so many dear friends becomes a role model that gives them a new optimistic outlook on life. The sparse text and illustrations done in the style of fashion drawings - a rather unconventional choice for this topic - complement each other convincingly. (7+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 13
Takadono, Hôko (text/illus.)
Kirokochan to midori no kutsu
(Little Kiroko and the green shoes)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1997. (4th ed.) 169 p.
(Ohanashi fesuta; 7)
ISBN 4-251-04057-0
Shoe - Mirror image - Stubbornness - Considerateness
Kiroko's new shoes are very stubborn and cause her much trouble, because she can only move as they want to move. Suddenly she begins to dance smoothly or has to run quickly, even if it is dangerous. Gradually she learns to adjust to the shoes and they get along well together. This funny, fantasy story, written in a fast-paced child-like language, conveys the message that everyday life would be much easier and full of harmony if people would be more disciplined and be consi-derate of one another. (9+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 14
Tang, Yaming (= Tô, Amei) (text)
Yu, Dawu (= U, Taibu) (illus.)
Jûmanbon no ya
(The hundred thousand arrows)
Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1997. [32] p.
ISBN 4-00-110636-1
China/History 220-265 - General - Jealousy - Intrigue - Cleverness
This original Japanese picture book is an easily understandable retelling by a Chinese writer and Chinese illustrator of the 46th episode of the historical novel »The three kingdoms« (San-guo zhi yan-yi or San-kuo chih yen-i) by Luo Guanzhong (or Lo Kuan-chung) dating from the Ming dynasty. A famous general known for his cleverness must supply one hundred thousand arrows within ten days without being given any materials or laborers. Against all expectations he fulfills this devious task brilliantly by the third day. The visual interpretation of the text in the style of royal, scholastic Chinese painting is a feast for the eye. Extremely fine brush strokes, transparent colors and unusual proportions present the classical heroic period of ancient China in stunning picture compositions which satisfy both aesthetically and humorously. (9+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 15
Yamamoto, Yôko (text/illus.)
Okochan
(I, Okochan!)
Tokyo: Shogakukan, 1996. (2nd ed.) [32] p.
ISBN 4-09-727075-3
Individuality - Childhood memories - Parody
The young girl Okochan has a strong personality that just radiates with vitality. She acts in accordance with her own imagination, impulses and logic, causing her parents and grandparents such amazement that they are nearly bowled over time after time. These delightful episodes from the author and graphic artist's own childhood are rendered here in short sketches which parody the well-known Japanese children's song »Zôsan« (Little elephant) by Michio Mado (Hans Christian Andersen Prize winner) and Ikuma Dan. This is an unconventional autobiography that sparks the reader to laughter again and again. (5+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1998 - 16
Yumoto, Kazumi
Popura no aki
(A poplar tree in autumn)
Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1997. 218 p.
(Shincho bunko Yu-6-2)
ISBN 4-10-131512-4
Old/Young - Friendship - Death - Letter-writing - Withdrawal - Fear
Seven-year old Chiaki struggles to deal with the death of her father, her mother's suffering, and a new home and school. Feeling quite at a loss herself, she becomes acquainted with their landlady, a very old woman who explains that she is collecting letters to the dead which she will personally deliver to the afterworld when she dies one day. Upon hearing this, Chiaki begins to write to her father and thus finds a way to free herself from her fear of death, from her grief, her inner withdrawal, and all her worries. Chiaki's strange but wonderous friendship with the old woman is told in a gentle, melancholy tone in flashbacks. (13+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 1
Akahane, Junko (text)
Sekiguchi, Shun (illus.)
Otonari wa majo
(My neighbors are witches)
Tokyo: Bunken shuppan, 1998. 160 p.
(Bunken jubenīru)
ISBN 4-580-81201-8
School - Bullying - Trust - Friendship - Individuality - Prejudice
In the neighborhood of the schoolgirl Akari, there lives a single mother and her daughter Rui. Because of their unusual appearance and style of life others are reluctant to get to know them. To set themselves off from their petty bourgeouis neighbors, they like to call themselves »witches.« When Rui joins the same school class as Akari, she finds it is dominated by a bully. For fear of being excluded or the next victim, the pupils are cowardly or pretend to be blind; no one trusts the others. Rui and Akari bravely act to resolve the problem and become true friends. The author attacks this serious problem with a funny and encouraging tale. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 2
Aman, Kimiko (text)
Yamawaki, Yuriko (illus.)
Himitsu no hikidashi aketa?
(Have you opened your magic drawer?)
Tokyo: PHP Kenkyujo, 1996. [32] p.
(PHP nikoniko ehon)
ISBN 4-569-58980-4
Search - Gift
Rummaging through old mementos makes a day quite special. An old woman has the habit of saving all sorts of things in a drawer. When she opens the drawer to find something particular, it won't stop opening out further and further until all her knicknackery has come to light. The children who are playing nearby are each allowed to pick out something they want to have. When the item originally sought is found at last and each child has a new treasure, the drawer closes again by itself. The old woman has many new friends now. In this picture book with likeable, naive illustrations young readers will enjoy finding figures to identify with and many of the scenes will be familiar to them. (4+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 3
Funakoshi, Katsura (text/photos)
Omocha no iiwake
(Whispering toys)
Tokyo: Suemori Books, 1997. 60 p.
ISBN 4-915777-20-0
Toy - Woodworking - Family memories
Katsura Funakoshi, the designer of this tasteful photographic picture book, is a contemporary sculptor. When his children were still young, he created toys for them from scraps of wood. Each of the pieces, which are portrayed in meticulously staged photographs here, has a story which the artist reveals in accompanying essays. This makes the book both a family chronicle and a biography of the artist himself. His words and fascinating pictures transport the youthful and adult reader into an introspective- poetic world that offers the treasured shelter of family life. (15+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 4
Gotō, Ryūji (text)
Yoshida, Mitsuhiko (illus.)
Sanada jūyūshi. Sarutobi Sasuke
(The ten heroes of Prince Sanada. Sarutobi Sasuke)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1998. 302 p.
(Tsūkai sekai no bōken bungaku ; 4)
ISBN 4-06-268005-X
Japan/History 1500-1600 - Vasal - Ninja - Adventure
In former times in Japan it was common for historical events to be related by storytellers. Thus the heroic epic tale about three Sanada princes, who lived in the 16th century under Toyotomi Hideyoshi has its origins in the 18th century. At the beginning of the 20th century this story was enlarged to include ten heros with varying family backgrounds and talents, and the figure of Sarutobi Sasuke became especially popular. Based on these folk legends, the children's book author R. Gotō retells the story of the orphan child Sarutobi Sasuke, who became a Ninja, and travelled throughout the land at the behest of his ruler to study the land and find other brave men. This is a highly readable adventure story supported by exquisitely drawn, authentic illustrations. (11+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 5
Higuchi, Michiko (text/illus.)
Iwata, Mitsuko (text/illus.)
Chokichoki chokkin
(The crab snips and snaps)
Tokyo: Kogumasha / Tenyaku ehon fureai bunko, 1997. 16 p.
ISBN 4-7721-0140-3
Crab - Paper - Play - Imagination - Picture book for the blind
This is a picture book which offers the blind child more than other books. The story of the crab who is playing on the shore with a piece of paper is imaginatively crafted and the pictures can be felt with the fingertips. A special technique creates a differentiated surface design making forms and textures palpable. The texture of the sand and the emotions of the main character become evident. The colorful pictures and the parallel texts for blind and non-blind readers allow children to share the book together and talk about it. The publication of this book was initiated by the Tenyaku ehon fureai bunko, a private charitable library for lending picture books for the blind. (7+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 6
Iwase, Jōko (text)
Watanabe, Yōji (illus.)
Arumajiro no shippo
(The tail of the armadillo)
Tokyo: Akane shobo, 1997. 205 p.
(Joi sutorīto)
ISBN 4-251-06171-3
Everyday life - Friendship - Siblings - Dog
Natsu is a diligent pupil and has good marks. Now she has a new girlfriend who becomes her role model. In spite of the conflicts with her younger sister, her daily life lacks nothing. And yet she sometimes feels oppressed by existential fears and loneliness which she senses at the sight of a dark tunnel, her frail grandmother, a stuffed armadillo or at the death of her pet dog. With much empathy and sympathy for the emotional world of children and teenagers, the author has created a very literary story of everyday life, enfolded in a transparent and melancholic atmosphere. (12+)
(12th Akai tori Award for Illustration, 1998)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 7
Kamiya, Shin (text/illus.)
Zōmushikun gambaru
(Weevils try hard)
Tokyo: Kin no hoshi-sha, 1997. [32] p.
ISBN 4-323-01813-4
Weevil - Insects - Enemy - Self-protection - Survival
A tiny little weevil and a larger one are easily frightened. When in danger, they roll themselves up and fall from the leaves, only to climb back up again - an absolutely tedious way of life. When they encounter other insects and tiny creatures in the forest, they discover other ways that one can protect oneself from an enemy. In refreshingly colorful and lively collages, younger children are introduced to nature's laws of survival. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 8
Kun, Kumiko (text)
Iino, Kazuyoshi (illus.)
Ano toki suki ni nattayo
(I have grown fond of you)
Tokyo: Kyōiku gageki, 1998. [32] p.
(Minna no ehon)
ISBN 4-7746-0429-1
Friendship - Sympathy - Aid - Conscience
Due to a physical abnormality the first-grader Akari is given ugly nicknames by her fellow classmates. By all except Yuiko. But in secret, when Yuiko is angry with Akari, she calls by those names, too. One day Yuiko gets into trouble and Akari is the one who helps her. Yuiko recognizes her dilemma and the two become good friends. The illustrations depict the protagonists with individualized proportions to perfectly match the brief, memorable text; in particular the over-sized faces speak directly to the reader. The confusion of a child's way of thinking is convincingly depicted. (7+)

Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 9
Mori, Tadaaki (text)
Karino, Fukiko (illus.)
Gurīn aizu
(Green Eyes)
Tokyo: Komine shoten, 1998. 111 p.
ISBN 4-338-08930-X
Everyday life - Diary - Memories
The events in the life of the ten-year-old narrator, which he records in his diary at the end of the year 1958, are mostly bitter ones: the separation of his parents, the despised swimming class at school, the death of a woman who regarded him highly, an accident that occurred while skipping school, and fears and protests of the citizens of the town of Tachikawa (near Tokyo) who protest against an American military base. With astonishing distance he is able to observe himself and his life situation. This distance and the lyrical phrases that surface in the midst of a description of prosaic situations and reveal the inner life of the figures and the local flavor are the literary characteristics of this author. (10+)
(28th Akai tori Literary Award, 1998)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 10
Nishida, Toshiya
Ryōte no naka no umi
(The sea in one's hands)
Tokyo: Tokuma shoten, 1997. 200 p.
ISBN 4-19-860673-0
Father/Son - Transvestite - Self-fulfillment - Father image - Tolerance
While his mother is away on a long business trip, Kazumi's father, who had left the family four years earlier after a personal identity crisis, suddenly appears. Kazumi is disgusted to find him living as a woman and using the female form of speech. Against Kazumi's will his father stays and takes over the household work. The more Kazumi learns about the earlier, inner conflicts his father experienced and his conviction that a person must be honest with himself, the more he can understand and accept his transformation. Before Kazumi's mother returns, the father disappears again forever, leaving Kazmi behind with a positive father image and a new perspective on life. This comical novel offers many amusing scenes with substantial dialogues between father and son. A remarkable testimony for self-fulfillment and tolerance toward those who are supposedly different. (15+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 11
Oka, Shūzō (text)
Tachibana, Naonosuke (illus.)
Boku no jinsen. Shigeru no baai
(My life. The case of Shigeru)
Tokyo: Popular-sha, 1997. 143 p.
(Junia bungakukan ; 29)
ISBN 4-591-05524-8
Handicap - Muscular atrophy - Love - View of life - Self-confidence
Life for twelve-year old Shigeru is extremely limited due to muscular atrophy and outside of his special school he is completely dependent upon the care given by his mother and younger sister. Sometimes he wishes they would devote more time to him, although he realizes they are overburdened ever since their father deserted the family. Desires and feelings of resignation haunt his mind, filling him with self-depreciation. A talk with a teacher and then the realization that his mother loves him in spite of everything help to change his view on life one day, leaving him with more self-confidence. The realistic portrayal of Shigeru's emotional life brings the reader face to face with the life circumstances of a handicapped youth. (11+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 12
Sekiguchi, Shun (text/illus.)
Hoshizora no hanashi
(Night Sky Watching)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1998. 48 p.
(Kagaku no hon)
ISBN 4-8340-1549-1
Constellation (Star) - Stargazer - Mythology
At sunset two children hurry impatiently to the mountain top where they will be able to gaze at the stars a whole night long with their amateur astronomer grandfather. The magnificent starry sky holds many secrets. Grandfather begins to tell them about the constellations, their movements, mythology and horoscopes. Designed for the young reader's first encounter with astronomy, this information book is easy to follow and entertaining. The night-time hue of blue, especially in the illustrations of mythological figures and in the glowing star map on the reverse side of the foldout bookcover is particularly aesthetic. (8+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 13
Sueyoshi, Akiko (text)
Komine, Yura (illus.)
Amefuribana saita
(Where the rainflowers bloom)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1998. 278 p.
ISBN 4-03-727070-6
Japan - Goblin - Friendship - Help - Time travel - Love - Self-knowledge
Eleven-year old Yuka makes the acquaintance of the goblin living in a guest house during her holidays in the mountains. Together with him, she finds herself travelling 150 years back in time. There she is an observer of the very difficult lives of a young woman and her daughter, and realizes how precious life is. As a result, she is prepared to deal more seriously with her own life. In Japanese children's literature the goblin known from Japanese traditions is seldom to be found, and thus it is all the more enjoyable to find him »revived« in this suspenseful and mysterious story. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 14
Tajima, Yukihiko (text/illus.)
Sōbē makkurokenoke
(Sōbē in space)
Tokyo: Doshinsha, 1998. 40 p.
ISBN 4-494-01236-X
Tightrope walker - Moon - Stars - Adventure
The rabbit in the moon asks the earthlings to visit its master, the moon, to cure her illness. Out of curiosity an doctor, a monk from the mountains and the tightrope walker Sōbē follow it. To fulfill their task, the battle with the spira nebula, they get involved in a dispute among the stars, and have a jolly time. The artist, who has won several international prizes, is known for his unique technique of patterns and dyes. This is his third adventure story about Sōbē, which is set in the pre-modern day Japan, and illustrated with dynamic pictures in folk-tale style. Particularly inventive is the portrayal of the moon and the constellations as well as a text consisting only of dialogue. (7+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 15
Tanikawa, Shuntarō (text)
Nakatsuji, Etsuko (illus./photos)
Yoru no yōchien
(Kindergarten by night)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan shoten, 1998. [40] p.
(Nihon kessaku ehon shirīzu)
ISBN 4-8340-1539-4
Monster - Kindergarten - Nighttime - Imagination - Onomatopoeia
Even the title and cover of this book, with its unusual color contrasts, give cause to suspect that this book will be full of surprises. And indeed it is highly amusing, thanks to the congenial cooperation between author and artist. At nighttime little monsters appear in the kindergarten, only to disappear again at dawn. Scenes of their boisterous activities are paralleled in very brief, onomatopoeical phrases. In fact, the names of these comical figures are matched with astonishing perfection to their movements and action - a delight of melody and word sounds, for listening and looking. The illustrations are based on actual black-and-white photographs of a kindergarten, to which have been added colors and additional details - making a clever contrast to the colorful and naive-style monsters. (3+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 1999 - 16
Tokyo kodomo toshokan (ed.)
Ōkoso, Reiko (illus.)
Namakura Tokku
(Tokku, the lazy girl)
Tokyo: Tokyo kodomo toshokan, 1998. 171 p.
(Aizōban ohanashi no rōsoku ; 2)
ISBN 4-88569-051-X
Modern fairy tale - Children's poetry - Storytelling - Reading aloud
This anthology, in an attractive pocket-sized format, is a compilation of folktales and modern fairy tales as well as poetry from Japan and other countries. These are select tales which the director of the Tokyo Children's Library, Kyoko Matsuola, and her storyteller co-workers have carefully prepared to oral presentations and already put to use with great success. For the first time these stories are being published with black-and-white illustrations in a bibliophile edition, in order to reach a wider audience of children and adults who appreciate the lively style of narration. (8+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 1
Asano, Atsuko (text)
Satō, Makiko (illus.)
Batterī; 2
(Battery; 2)
Tokyo: Kyoiku Gageki, 1998. 360 p.
ISBN 4-7746-0428-3
Willpower - Self-assurance - Talent - Baseball
Takumi, a talented baseball pitcher, is quite impressed with himself and no one else. He is interested in nothing else but baseball and his own opinions about it. His uncompromising attitude is often a problem for other people, especially his new friend, who as a baseball catcher would be an ideal partner. As time goes on, Takumi gradually gains more sensitivity for the feelings of other people. In the end he looks forward to taking part in the national school championships - not for the sake of winning, but for the sake of playing. This gripping novel gives insight into the psychological development of a strong-willed boy, alongside other figures who are given excellent characterization. (11+)
(39th Japanese Association of Writers for Children's Literature; 1999, Vol. 1: 35th Noma Award for Juvenile Literature; 1997)

Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 2
Chō, Shinta (text/illus.)
Pontarō, den
(Pontarō, the bouncing rubber-headed boy)
Tokyo: Doshinsha, 1998. 31 p.
ISBN 4-494-00881-8
Flying
A boy with a head like a rubber ball flies over hills and valleys, forests and meadows. He bumps into a mountain peak, bounces up again in an arch, hits the horn of a giant, and continues to bounce and bump all around the world. Like a basketball he flies over towering rainforest trees or - oops - down towards the needles of a hedgehog that turns on its back and catapults him with its paws. Chō Shinta's fantasy world is as free and richly imaginative as the children he portrays in his inimitably original visual language of brilliant colors and naive, flat shapes. (5+)
(4th Japanese Prize for Picture Books; 1999)

Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 3
Gomi, Tarō (text/illus.)
Koushi no haru
(The calf in springtime)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1999. [32] p.
ISBN 4-03-972020-2
Calf - Growth - Nature
This picture book is not an information book about baby animals, even though it describes the growth of a calf over a year's time. The book cover depicts an innocent little calf, which then on the last page finally has two little horns to show as evidence of its physical maturity. But what has happened in the meantime is not shown in the pictures. Instead, the seasonal changes of nature are shown in unique, sparing illustrations and a brief text. The calf is nonetheless present and the viewer senses that it is thriving. A magically suggestive picture book done in Tar Gomi's typically refreshingly graphic colors and simplified shapes. (7+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 4
Hoshikawa, Hiroko (text/photos)
Bokutachi no Konnyaku sensei
(Our Mr. Marshmallow)
Tokyo: Shogakukan, 1998. (7th ed.) [36] p.
ISBN 4-09-727221-7
Handicap - Kindergarten - Care-giver
A physically handicapped man with cerebral paralysis works for ten years as a care-giver in a kindergarten. Because of his gentle nature and special abilities - such as painting, writing and paper folding with his toes - and despite of his handicap, he is a good teacher and playmate for the children, who see him quite realistically. Teacher and children profit from one another: the teacher endeavors to meet the continual challenges that children represent, and the children experience the natural spontaneity of a handicapped person. This documentary photographic picture book captures moments of kindergarten life marked by mutual respect. (6+)
(1st Japanese Prize for Picture Books; 1996)

Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 5
Itō, Hiroshi (text/illus.)
Nigiyaka na okeiko
(No end of hard tests)
Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1999. [112] p.
(Gokigenna sutego ; 3)
ISBN 4-19-861004-5
Siblings - Jealousy - Love - Rivalry
A young girl is jealous of her eight-month old brother. Sometimes when he is a burden, she calls him »monkey« or »monster«. But at other times she can be just as proud of him as her girlfriend is of her dog. And so the two girls set up a competition to find out who has more special talents - baby or dog. Thus begins a series of hard tests, which the reader will find quite amusing. The sister proves, surprisingly enough, to be loving and devoted. The simple red-black-and-white pictures capture in sketchy outlines the mood of each situation. This is a thoroughly entertaining book with a humor that both adults and children will appreciate. (7+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 6
Itō, Yū (text)
Ōta, Daihachi (illus.)
Oni no hashi
(A bridge to the other world)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan Shoten, 1998. 344 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1571-8
Japan - Demon - Afterlife - Underworld - Grief - Growing up
A young noble boy who is filled with guilt at the death of his sister looks down a well. Drawn by supernatural powers, he is pulled down into the well and lands on the shore of the river boundary to the realm of the dead. There is a vaulted bridge before him and horned demons approach him with menacing looks. Returning to the land of the living, he must deal with the conflict in himself and with his father and the demons. The author links the legend of Ono no Takamura (802-853), courtier, poet and scholar, to the problems of growing up in today's world. Life in the imperial city of Kyōto in the 9th century, with its popular beliefs in spirits and demons, and the Buddhist belief in the world beyond, give this fantasy novel an atmosphere of suspense, underpinned with excellent black-and-white Japanese style pictures. (12+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 7
Konishi, Eiko (text/illus.)
Yatto aeta
(What a lovely meeting!)
Tokyo: Shikosha, 1998. [26] p.
Italy - City life - Dog - Search
While shopping in the city, a boy loses his dog at the marketplace. After a long search, they find each other on the hill over the city. They are both pleased to be together again. This picture book portrays the beauty of an old Tuscany town and its lively everyday life. The warm colors of the illustrations exude a sense of security. (3+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 8
Mori, Eto
Tsuki no fune
(The moon ship)
Tokyo: Kodansha, 1998. 226 p.
ISBN 4-06-209209-3
Fear - Self-confidence - Friendship - Purpose - Courage
This adolescent novel is set in Tokyo in 1998 against a social background of shop-lifting, willing prostitution among high school girls, or the media's hyped up predictions about the end of the world after another earthquake. Three pupils and a young man, who has turned his back on daily life and loses himself involves in creating an ark-like space ship. These young people try to help one another overcome their anxieties about life, gain self-confidence, re-establish solid friendships - while still remaining ambivalent due to their sensitive nature. In this moving story, the author succeeds in giving her figures - and thus ultimately her readers - courage to go on living by showing that young people are capable of solving their own problems without the help of adults. (13+)
(36th Noma Award for Juvenile Literature; 1998)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 9
Ogawa, Mimei (text)
Takano, Reiko (illus.)
Ushionna
(The cow woman)
Tokyo: Kaiseisha, 1999. 36 p.
(Nihon no dōwa meisakusen)
ISBN 4-03-963700-3
Japan - Death - Soul - Motherly love - Justice
For his efforts to give artistic shape to stories for children the author Mimei Ogawa (1882-1961) is called the patron of modern Japanese children's literature. »The cow woman« (first published in 1919) describes a deaf-mute mother who is given this title by the other villagers due to her physical size and gentle character. After her death, her soul is unable to rest because her young son is left all alone in wretched poverty. She appears in various guises to help and guide him. The literary speciality of Ogawa lies in expressing the Oriental religious philosophy symbolically, revealing the continuity of life. The decay of living things is not an absolute, as life takes on another form of expression, as in this example of motherly love. In mixed media technique, including copper-plate etchings, the artist interprets the mystical effects of the soul of the deceased mother in palpable, atmospheric illustrations, while also depicting the people and landscape of northern Japan. (10+) ☆ ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 10
Saragai, Tatsuya (text)
Hasegawa, Shūhei (illus.)
EE' shōkōgun
(Children of the »EE«-syndrome)
Tokyo: Komine Shoten, 1998. 159 p.
ISBN 4-338-10712-X
Teacher - Pupil - Conflict - School performance
In order to gain recognition for the best class of pupils, a teacher transforms his weaker pupils into gold fish and sells them at the market. In an elite school many pupils are found to suffer from the »Empty-Elite Syndrome« which is a bad conscience from not being ambitious enough. A practice teacher who is being bullied by his pupils gets unexpected help one day from his strong, but long-dead brother. Inspired by his sceptical views of the strict, performance-oriented school system in Japan, the author wrote these four spooky and phantastically absurd short stories. They are sure to keep the reader thinking long after reading. (11+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 11
Shingū, Susumu (illus.)
Chiisana ike
(Little pond)
Tokyo: Fukuinkan Shoten, 1999. [32] p.
(Nihon kessaku ehon shirīzu)
ISBN 4-8340-1594-7
Pond - Water surface - Nature - Reflection
Deep underneath the clouds there lies a wee pond. But a closer look reveals a wonderful dramatic world of nature. The wind, the animals - both in and over the water's surface -, the rain drops, the glowing hot sun, the swimming leaves, and the star-strewn sky constantly cause the surface of the water to change its appearance. In the end the pond lies once again deep below the clouds, barely recognizable in the blue nighttime stillness. The question that Susumu Shingu asks at the beginning and the end of the book - »Can you see a little pond?« - could just as well be »Can you see the universe?« With all its expressiveness, the natural world lets us sense the cosmic greatness of the universe in this wordless picture book. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 12
Tada, Satoshi (text/illus.)
Kabutokun
(My friend the Beetle)
Tokyo: Kogumasha, 1999. [40] p.
ISBN 4-7721-0153-5
Insect - Friendship - Habitat
One winter day a boy finds an insect larva in the woods. He takes it home and builds a »beetlehouse « of leaves and earth for it in his garden. In the summer it transforms into a splendid beetle as big as the boy himself. They become friends, eat watermelon together, play and take a bath together. The glorious days end, however, when the boy has to accept the fact that his home is not the proper habitat for a beetle. So he lets his friend fly back to the woods after he promises they will meet again. The author, who like most boys was fascinated by big beetles as a child, depicts his »beetle-dream« in warm, child-like naive pictures. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 13
Terada, Shiori (text/illus.)
Higashi, Nana (transl.)
Muttan no umi
(Muttan's ocean)
Tokyo: Kumon Shuppan, 1999. 32 p.
(Kumon no edōwa)
ISBN 4-7743-0310-0
Japan - Mud-flats - Dehydration - Animal life - Environmental damage
In 1997, despite the protests of citizen action groups, a gigantic dyke was built up off the Isahaya Bay near Nagasaki. As a result, many species of animal life lost their habitat. This event led one school girl, then nine years old, to draw a picture book in which the little fish Mutusugor (Mudskipper), a rare and beloved fish in the bay, plays the leading role. This portrait of environmental destruction and the suffering and the hopes of the animals for a better future is impressively told in the words and images of a child. At the same time the young writer cleverly manages to inform the reader of the natural food-chain of the animals, which humans are ultimately dependent. The text is in Japanese and English. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2000 - 14
Umeda, Shunsaku (text/illus.)
Umeda, Yoshiko (text/illus.)
14sai to Tautausan
(The fourteen-year old boy and Mr. Tautau)
Tokyo: Poplar-sha, 1999. (2nd ed.) 299 p.
ISBN 4-591-05874-3
School - Bullying - Truancy - Self-discovery - Old age
In their previous, prize-winning picture book (»Shiranpuri«, [»Ignore it!«]) the husband-wife writing team Umeda portray the inner conflicts of a boy who refuses to take part in school bullying. In this book the main character is the victim. The solution to the problem here involves going beyond the school setting and getting other people in the victim's surroundings involved - a strange old man named Tautau, the grandparents, a neighbor child, and the sea. They all play a significant role in the boy's healing process. In the colored wood-block pictures, the grainy texture supports the psychological state, the situation and the landscape, giving each scene its own unique depth. (13+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 1
Baba, Noboru (text/illus.)
Gama-kun karo-kun
(The toad and the frog)
Tokyo : Kogumasha, 2000. [40] p.
ISBN 4-7721-0157-8
Swimming - Friendship - Assistance - Get one's way
The frog-boy pities his friend, a toad, because even though he has the same long legs as the frog, he cannot swim. The frog comes up with an idea how to teach his friend. The toad trusts him and starts practicing eagerly. Noboru Baba tells this heartwarming story of friendship and determination in his characteristic humorous and vivid style, complementing the narrative with plain, cartoonlike pictures. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 2
Hashiguchi, Jōji [i.e. George] (text/photos)
Kodomotachi no jikan
(Children's time)
Tokyo : Shogakukan, 2000. (2nd ed.) 222 p.
ISBN 4-09-681271-4
Japan - School children - Individual
In his work with children, photographer George Hashiguchi observed that children around the age of 11 or 12 started developing and showing their personality very strongly. To explore this stage in development, he photographed 105 sixth grade students from all over Japan in their respective surroundings. He talked to them, asking always the same questions. Looking at the portraits and reading the interviews, one gradually enters into dialogue with these young personalities. This sense of a personal relationship makes this informative documentation an unusual and exciting read. (11+) ☆ ☼

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 3
Iwasaki, Kyōko (text)
Futamata, Eigorō (illus.)
Jūnishi no hajimari
(The story about twelve animals)
Tokyo : Kyōiku Gageki, 1999. (7th ed. (1st ed. 1997)) 28 p.
(Nihon no minwa ehon)
ISBN 4-7746-0409-7
China - Zodiacs - Folklore
The time of the old Chinese calendar is deeply rooted in Chinese cosmology. Time is divided into cycles. One cycle comprises 60 years, each one consisting of ten tribes, or rather five elements and twelve branches. The twelve zodiacs are matched with the twelve branches, each in turn governing one year. Tradition holds that the selection of the animals was determined by a competition. At the end of the year, a god told all the animals to gather on the first day of the new year. The first twelve to arrive were to reign, each in turn, over the upcoming years. Upon this announcement, all animals rushed towards the god's palace. Vivid and humorous illustrations witness the race progressing in sequential pictures just like on a picture scroll. (4+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 4
Kanamori, Saiji (text/illus.)
Kuroi manto no ojisan
(A man with a black coat)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2000. [31] p.
(Nihon kessaku ehon shirīzu)
ISBN 4-8340-1676-5
Street musician - Boy - Encounter - Adventure - Balloon
A boy lives in an old town with beautiful halftimbered houses typical of southern Germany and Alsace. One day, a stranger in a black coat comes to the market place and starts making music. He takes a balloon out of his suitcase and invites the boy to fly off with him. Their wonderful aerial escapade is interrupted by birds picking at the balloon, they manage a close landing on a church steeple and make their descent like tightrope walkers. Finally, the man leaves the town. Despite the dramatic highlights, the boy's encounter with the street musician releases the reader with a predominantly calm and dreamy impression. This peculiar atmosphere is created by the successful blend of traditional Japanese and European pictorial styles. (3+)
(Bologna Ragazzi Award [Fiction Children]; 2000)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 5
Kanzawa, Toshiko (text)
Katayama, Ken (illus.)
Mori e itta sutōbu
(A heater went to the forest)
Tokyo : Biriken Shuppan, 2000. (2nd ed.) [32] p.
ISBN 4-939029-03-4
Heater - Forest animals - Friendship - Use
The heater is getting bored in summertime, so leaves the room and goes out on the street looking for a job. But his excited, loud voice disturbs the children during their nap, and the housewives prefer refrigerators to heaters. Pushed by a gruff garbage truck, he rolls down the street until he stops in the forest where he finally stays forever as a companion to the forest animals. Ordinary everyday life and the fantastic intertwine in this adventure story of the black, chubby boiler in amusing ways. The strong, dynamic images are very attractive and full of warmth. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 6
Kawahara, Junko (text)
Ishimaru, Chisato (illus.)
Chōchō, tonda
(A butterfly fluttered)
Tokyo : Kodansha, 1999. 103 p.
(Wakuwaku raiburarī)
ISBN 4-06-195693-0
Life - Existence - Meaning of life - Puberty - Care for the elder - Women's emancipation - Family
12-year-old Yuki is not happy with herself. She avoids her grandfather at home because of his physical disabilities. But when she finds a comicbook (reminiscent of Kafka's »Metamorphosis«), she asks him what could happen to the enchanted caterpillar-boy who was thrown into the river by his own parents. The caterpillar shall turn into a butterfly, but it will never be able to fly. The reader suspects the affinity between the boy's fate and that of the grandfather. This challenging and engaging narrative describes different aspects of life, such as pubertal insecurity, ageing and the fundamental question of human existence, with surprising acuity. (11+)
(40th Japanese Association of Writers for Children's Prize for New Authors; 2000)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 7
Kikuta, Mariko (text/illus.)
Itsudemo aeru
(I can see you any time)
Tokyo : Gakken, 2000. (23nd ed. (1st ed. 1998)) [48] p.
ISBN 4-05-201055-8
Dog - Girl - Death - Grief
Just like the children, the little dog Shirō cannot fathom the sudden death of his little mistress Mika-chan. »Dead« to him simply means »not to be there anymore«. He cannot comprehend that the loss is to be final. He keeps looking and longing for her. Remembering precious moments they spent together, he discovers that she continues to live in his heart. The author succeeds in conveying the quiet happiness and the joy, the emptiness on the deepest sorrow with simple words and surprisingly naive limned drawings – a great achievement for a little booklet. The emotions of the little dog will help readers to confront the feelings of death, grief and consolation. (5+)
(Bologna Ragazzi Award [Fiction Children, Special Prize]; 1999)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 8
Kimishima, Hisako (text)
Ono, Kaoru (illus.)
Kyojin Gumiyā to taiyō to tsuki : chūgoku no mukashibanashi
(The giant Gumiyā and the Sun and the Moon)
Tokyo : Iwanami Shoten, 2000. [41] p.
ISBN 4-00-110855-0
China - Myth - World - Creation - Giant - Sun - Moon
According to the tradition of the Bland-people of southwestern China, the earth was created from chaos by the divine giant Gumiyā. The ten sun and moon brothers and sisters scorned upon this act and threatened to destroy everything with their blazing light. Upon this, the giant killed them all with the exception of one sun and one moon who had hid in a cave. With the help of the animals Sun and Moon could be won over to protect life on earth. Re-narrated in a vivid style suitable for children, this myth of creation is illustrated with ink, chalk, earthy acrylic and Japanese mineral paints reminiscent of archaic cave drawings. The reader living in our technological age, removed from Nature, will be compelled to recall the beauties of nature. (6+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 9
Kunimatsu, Toshihide (text)
Suzuki, Mamoru (illus.)
Toki yo ōzora e
(Ibises, fly to the sky!)
Tokyo : Kin no Hoshi-sha, 2000. [36] p.
ISBN 4-323-01818-5
Japanese ibis - Breeding - Bird protection - Environmental awareness
Toki, the Japanese ibis (Nipponia nippon), is almost extinct in Japan. These birds, put under international rare wild life protection in the 1960s, also play an important role in Japan's cultural history. Their feathers glisten in the sunlight in soft shades of pink. The traditional Japanese colour spectrum even knows the colour »toki-iro« (colour of the ibis). In former times, they could often be seen in the rice fields or by the lakes. The author published a non-fiction book for children »Saigo no toki« (The last ibis) in 1998, thorougly documenting a project aiming to protect these rare birds. This picture book is a version for smaller children. It relates with great care and detail how much effort and respect were put into capturing the last ibis in Japan, so that he and his siblings could live at the center for ibis together with their kin from China. (4+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 10
Mado, Michio (text)
Saitō, Yasuhisa (illus.)
Ippai yasai-san
(All kinds of vegetable)
Tokyo : Shikosha, 1999. [28] p.
ISBN 4-7834-0211-6
Children's poetry - Existence - Love of life - Vegetables
The cucumber is happy to be a cucumber. Her dress is adorned with little, prickly glass beads. The onion, too, appreciates her existence as an onion: she is fat and round, because she is all dressed up. The ten poems by the winner of the Andersen-award celebrate their god-given existence and explore nature's bounty with attractive, child-like language. Unusual about this book is the pictorial interpretation by Yasuhisa Saitō: the vegetables are depicted with the same fine lines and great precision characterististic of illustrated encyclopedias. Surprisingly enough, the illustrations harmonise well with the text. Insects crawling across the pages effectfully add interest. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 11
Miyazawa, Kenji (text)
Kuroi, Ken (illus.)
Suisenzuki no yokka
(The fourth day of the month of daffodils)
Tokyo : Miki Shoko, 1999. [40] p.
ISBN 4-89588-112-1
Child - Spirit - Snow
On the »fourth day of the month of daffodils«, the bad old snow woman lets her apprentices, snowboys and -wolves, roam about in the mountains of northern Japan. A child hurries across the hills to return home. As the sky darkens, the voice of the snow woman rings through the upcoming snow storm ... The poet Kenji Miyazawa weaves this threatening natural event of early spring into a fairy tale narrative. Ken Kuroi's illustrations remain close to the text without restraining the reader's imagination. The different snow formations come alive and are transfigured into spirits of snow hovering in the icy air. Faint hues of white and grey-blue imbue this picture book with a strange, transparent beauty. (9+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 12
Murakami, Yasunari (text/illus.)
Pinku no iru yama
(The mountains where Pink lives)
Tokyo : Tokuma Shoten, 2000. [32] p.
ISBN 4-19-861217-x
Trout - Mountains - River - Nature
The award-winning trilogy of the trout-boy Pink has enjoyed lasting success in Japan ever since the 80s and has now been published in a new edition, completed by this fourth volume. We learn about Pink's life: his birth, survival during the harsh winter, his voyage up-stream to the breeding grounds, and finally the life of the new generation. The artist, himself a passionate, nature-loving angler, relates the course of life in and around the mountain river obeying the laws of nature. Nature is full of dangers but supplies food for everyone. All four volumes convey the vitality of life with refreshing subtlety, thoughtful composition and the effective use of intricate typography. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 13
Nagasaki, Natsumi (text)
Sugita, Hiromi (illus.)
Tuinkuru
(Twinkle)
Tokyo : Komine Shoten, 1999. 140 p.
(Shin Komine sōsaku jidō bungaku)
ISBN 4-338-10716-2
Everyday life - Loneliness - Hope
The protagonists of the six short stories are a group of young adults who suffer from loneliness and the banality of everyday life. The 24-hour shop, the laundry, the game hall and the café are their only familiar places because they don't care about family life and domestic comfort. That's where they meet up with old pals or make new friends. School is no particular treat either. Life in general simply turns them off. They seem hopeless cases in their indifference and listlessness. But they might intuit that there are ways and opportunities to overcome their teen-angst. The author describes her young adult anti-heroes with great empathy. (13+) ☼
(40th Japanese Association of Writers for Children's Prize; 2000)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 14
Niimi, Nankichi (text)
Kamiya, Shin (illus.)
Dendenmushi no kanashimi
(The snail's sorrow )
Tokyo : Dainippon Tosho, 1999. 29 p.
ISBN 4-477-01023-0
Nature - Animals - Life - Knowledge
The new born snail, deer and butterfly are awed by the first sparkling drop of morning dew, by the sky, the spring in the village and by the fireflies' and butterflies' festival. The author, one of the most renowned modern classics of Japanese children's literature (1913-1943), describes nature in a refreshingly poetic way from the perspective of unexperienced young creatures in gentle language. The fourth, symbolic story tells of a snail who becomes weary of life when she discovers that her house is filled with grief and sorrow. In desperation, she asks other snails. Finally, she overcomes her sadness realising that everyone has to bear his burden in life. (6+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 15
Ōtani, Miwako (text)
Nakamura, Etsuko (illus.)
Hikari no toki ni
(Toward the season of light)
Tokyo : Kumon Shuppan, 2000. 203 p.
(Kumon no jidō bungaku)
ISBN 4-7743-0378-x
Grandfather - Grandchild - Death - Anxiety - Transitoriness - Meaning of life
Ever since the sudden death of her beloved nephew, twelve-year-old Misaki is confronted with the transitory nature of life and the fear of death. She questions herself about the meaning of life. When her 76-year-old grandfather, key figure of this young adult novel, who was taken into the family as a burden, finds a new partner, life changes for the family members. The two elder people's philosophy of life, at first condemned by the parents, influences Misaki and gives her the hope and power she needs to go on living. The author combines the fundamental question of life and death with the issue of elder people in contemporary society. (12+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 16
Tejima, Keizaburō (text/illus.)
Kumagera no haru
(The spring of the wood-peckers)
Tokyo : Riburio Shuppan, 1999. [29] p.
(Gokkan ni ikiru ikimonotachi)
ISBN 4-89784-774-5
Wood-pecker - Winter - Spring - Procreation - Family
Living in the north of Japan, on Hokkaido, the artist continuously observes the wild life in the mountains and repeatedly creates impressive picture books. Because of the convincing and concentrated visual language of his wood cuts, he has been nominated for several international awards. This book tells of the life of a wood-pecker, his survival during the cold winter and of his renewed family life in spring. The wood-peckers stand out from the background of the grandiose and snowy mountains in forceful shapes and vibrant colours, hardly calling for words. Accordingly, the text remains short and concise, thereby amplifying the beauty and intensity of the pictures. (3+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 17
Yamashita, Haruo (text)
Sugiura, Hanmo (illus.)
Umi o kattobase
(Bash the sea!)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2000. [36] p.
ISBN 4-03-330790-7
Boy - Baseball - Training - Will force - Wishful dream - Sea
Wataru got up very early to run down to the deserted beach, his baseball bat in hand to practice a few blows. The wind also blows hard, stirring the scattered flotsam. Wataru is afraid, but he is even more determined to play in the big match. Even without a ball, he relentlessly swings his bat against the wild waves. Exhausted, he sees a small, wondrous child trying to help him and then disappearing back into the sea. Hanmo Sugiura effectively illustrates the well told and gripping story about the enthusiastic sports-boy using the stylistic devices of television and magazines. While the pictures always remain concrete, they are surprisingly unconventional and poetic. Bold acrylics convincingly convey the determination and the fanatic dreams of the persevering protagonist. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2001 - 18
Yokoyama, Mitsuo (text)
Fukuda, Iwao (illus.)
Hikatchoru zeyo! Bokura : shimantogawa monogatari
(We live our life – The story on Shimanto River)
Tokyo : Bunken Shuppan, 1999. 183 p.
(Bunken juben§ru)
ISBN 4-580-81251-4
Japan - School children - Childhood memories - Home - History 1964-1965
Japan experiences economic growth in the 60s. Set against this historical backdrop, the author tells the story about children's day-to-day existence in a provincial town on Shikoku. The partly autobiographical, first-person narrative is centered on an eleven-year-old boy. He sets out on adventures with his friends, exploring the beautiful nature along the Shimanto-River. Their experiences in the home town and surroundings, including encounters with social outcasts, enrich the children and are of great importance to their further lives. The author evokes his vivid childhood, which he and his friends spent each in their own way, with great realism and detail. (11+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 1
Chiba, Mikio (text)
Wu, Jianhua (i.e. Ū, Jenhoa) (illus.)
Shitanaga-bāsan
(The old woman with the long tongue)
Tokyo : Shogakukan, 2001. [36] p
(Chihiro Bijutsukan korekushon ehon ; 5)
ISBN 4-09-727237-3
Mountain – Deforestation – Environmental destruction – Afforestation – Demon – Folktale
In this book, a little-known folktale from Northern Japan was rewritten along the lines of current environmental consciousness. Deep in the mountains, the old woman with the long tongue and the horned giant spend their time frightening away village people who have lost their way. When less and less people go into the mountains, the two demons wonder what has happened and walk down to the village. Along their way they notice the environmental damage caused by deforestation. Everybody suffers from the consequences, even the dragon of the lake, who intends to take revenge on the people. The demons manage to calm him down and take him to a safe place. To the people they suggest a proper afforestation of the area. Wu Jianhua interprets this modernised folktale with his artistically imaginative and dynamic pictures in Chinese style. (5+) ☼

Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 2
Hatachi, Yoshiko (text)
Sano, Yōko (illus.)
Mata sugu ni aeru kara
(As we will soon be able to see again ... )
Tokyo : Dainippon Tosho, 2000. 105 p.
ISBN 4-477-01061-3
Everyday life – Self-reflection – Children's poetry
Many things can be discovered in one's everday life; a fact that inspired poetess Yoshiko Hatachi to ask for the meaning behind it, look deep inside, and remember precious or lost moments. Nature is strongly familiar to her: Pheasant's Eyes bring her dead mother's words back to her, blossoms on the plum tree remind her of her grandmother. She associates grass struggling against the wind with viability and dry hay with calmness. Yet, there are also some inanimate objects that evoke emotions or past memories: the sign near the road, for example, that always stays in the same place, itself unsure of which way to go. The tender, simple, and honest words of poetry will move young readers. Blackand- white illustrations accompanying the text are losely scattered across the pages. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 3
Itō, Yū (text)
Æta, Daihachi (illus.)
En no matsubara
(The pine grove of rage)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2001. 405 p.
ISBN 4-8340-1758-3
Boy – Prince – Unborn – Ghost – Soul – Rage – Curse – Release
This novel is set in the golden age of Japan's courtly culture between the ninth and twelfth century, when people still strongly believed in the existence of ghosts and demons. The young crown prince suffers because of a vengeful ghost that tortures him at night. One day, at the imperial palace, he meets fourteen-year-old servant Otowa and the two boys become friends. To release the prince from the ghost's curse, Otowa enters the pine grove near the palace, where the angry souls of the dead dwell. Years ago, because of the rules of succession, the unborn child of the emperor, originally conceived as a princess, was manipulated by a monk's magic powers and the male prince was born instead. Now, both souls finally become reconciled and are released from the curse. The aesthetic, traditional cover-illustration, conveying the eerie atmosphere of the story, and the other pictures, illustrating the aristocratic way of life at that time, form an authentic frame for this fantastic historical novel. (13+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 4
Matsutani, Miyoko (text)
Toyota, Kazuhiko (illus.)
Ringo korokoro
(Roll, roll, roll … apples are rolling around)
Tokyo : Doshinsha, 2001. [24] p.
(Akachan no oishii hon)
ISBN 4-494-00172-4
Girl – Apple
A small girl hears an apple tree cry because it is full of apples that nobody wants to eat. When the girl climbs up the tree and shakes the branches, all the apples fall to the ground and roll away – but where to? Suddenly, she feels very lonely. Where are all the apples gone? In this picture book, drawn in a plain, naïve, and clear style, small children can get involved in the girl's adventure; in the end, the protagonist feels delighted that she has a wonderful delicious red apple for herself. Miyoko Matsutani tells this story in a brief yet melodious style which touches children's minds and clearly shows the girl's compassion for the sad tree. Adults reading this tale to children will enjoy the language and interpret the story in their own way. (2+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 5
Murakami, Yasunari (text/illus.)
Aoi yadokari
(The blue hermit crab)
Tokyo : Tokuma Shoten, 2001. [40] p.
ISBN 4-19-861374-5
Sea – Diving – Fear – Courage – Marine fauna
A boy with diving goggles and a snorkel hesitates to jump into the water. Yet, when he finds a sea shell and holds it close to his ear, he hears the voice of the sea inviting him in. Immediately, his fear of the water gives way to curiosity. Led by an octopus, he dives to the bottom of the sea, where fabulous creatures dwell. After the octopus has accompanied the boy back to the surface, it says goodbye and jokingly sends out a cloud of black ink. On this summer evening, the sky is aglow with a goldenorange light. Composing his pictures in a varying selection of colours, the nature-loving artist makes shades of blue the dominant background colour. It adequately transports the emotions of this humorous yet poetic picture book, painted in a spacious manner on large-format pages. (5+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 6
Oikawa, Kazuo (text)
Nakamura, Etsuko (illus.)
Namida no kohaku no nazo
(The mystery of the tear-shaped amber)
Tokyo : Iwasaki Shoten, 2000. 181 p.
(Bungaku no izumi ; 8)
ISBN 4-265-04148-5
Grandmother – Granddaughter – Search – Parents – Origins – Social bonds
Fifty-five years after the end of the war, Grandmother, who lost her parents when she was eleven, and her granddaughter Misaki travel to a coastal region in the north of Japan searching for her family's roots. The only keepsake reminding her of her mother is a piece of amber that has belonged to her family for generations. It is said to originate from this region and might help to shed light on a part of her parent's life completely unknown to her. The two women are eagerly supported in their arduous search by the village people. Misaki begins to feel more and more sympathy for her grandmother and comes to understand the old woman's longing for her parents. Powerful human relations and worship of the ancestors are evident throughout the impressive story. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 7
Satō, Satoru (text)
Tanaka, Kiyo (illus.)
Donguri, atsumare!
(Acorns, gather together!)
Tokyo : Akane Shobo, 2001. 76 p.
(Wakuwaku yōnen dōwa ; 1)
ISBN 4-251-04011-2
Girl – Acorns – Football – Imagination – Creativity
It is sometimes quite difficult to find books of high literary quality for beginning readers that correspond to the reading ability and competence of the target group. This appealingly illustrated book about a girl who wants to make her own picture book and, therefore, has to invent a story first, meets these demands. The author manages to communicate the fact that imagination is the source of creativity; he describes how the girl within her daily routine uses some acorns she collected in the park to spin a story. Each of her steps can be traced by the readers and is told by renowned children's book author Satoru SatÇ, in a short and exciting story with fantasy elements. (6+) ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 8
Takayama, Yūya (text)
Okamoto, Jun (illus.)
Ojīsan to boku no mitsubachi
(The bee of my grandfather and me)
Tokyo : Poplar-sha, 2001. 47 p.
ISBN 4-591-06799-8
Grandfather – Grandson – Bee – Sympathy – Death – Grief
Ten-year-old Takuo is a little afraid of his grandfather and rather tries to avoid him. The first hours he really spends with him, which are also the last, are when he visits him in hospital. Secretly smuggling in grandfather's favourite food, honey, is a nice little adventure for Takuo, because then a bee always flies in by the window and grandad lets it share the honey without getting stung. The more new sides Takuo discovers to his grandad, the more sympathy he feels for him. In a short pithy text, written from the young protagonist's point of view, the author describes how the boy's feelings slowly change from a child's aversion into deep love, and how, in the end, the boy grieves for the sad loss. (9+) ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 9
Takeshita, Fumiko (text)
Kondō, Rie (illus.)
Tsukiyo ni irasshai
(Invitation to the moonlit night)
Tokyo : Kinno Hoshisha, 2000. 126 p.
(Kizzu dōwakan)
ISBN 4-323-05231-6
Moon – Girl – Imagination
This »casket of treasures« contains four separate sympathetic moon-tales for girls. Their protagonists are Miyu and her mother, who love the moon and know that it enables them to turn their everyday life into happy moments. Once, they are allowed to wear a small silvery brooch that should actually be up in the sky as the moon crescent. One night, when the moon is full, a cat is saved and Miyu becomes friends with a boy from her class whom she did not like before. Another time, the girl dreams about going on a balloon journey to take a closer look at the moon. And in the last story, she meets a woman who dyes the moonlight several different colours. Tender atmospheric pictures accompany the amusing fantastic tales. (9+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 10
Tatematsu, Wahei (text)
Yokomatsu, Momoko (illus.)
Tanbo no inochi
(Life in the paddy fields)
Tokyo : Kumon Shuppan, 2001. 32 p.
ISBN 4-7743-0462-x
Farmer – Rice-growing – Nature – Vitality – Professional conscience
A winter landscape covered in snow forms the overture to this book, leading to the life-story of an old couple. Because of the migration to the cities, they are the last rice farmers in this area. In the following scene, the old couple come onstage as ballet dancers dancing together in the spotlight: this metaphoric picture expresses the old people's love for their profession and can also be interpreted as a plea for the importance of nature. The natural power of the rice plant lends them vitality and makes them cope with many a problem in their everyday life. The well-known author describes the couple's busy life and their detailed knowledge about rice-growing in a literary style. All the events are staged in a theatre-like manner by the artist's colourful and partly mosaic abstract pictures. This is an innovative picture book. (9+) ☆ ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 11
Tomiyasu, Yōko (text)
Hirose, Gen (illus.)
Sora e tsuzuku shinwa
(The Sky Myth)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2000. 285 p.
ISBN 4-03-727080-3
God of Nature – Identity crisis – Assistance – Girl – Local geography and history
When pupil Satoko accidentally touches an old document about local history in the school library, a slightly withered old man with a snow-white cloudy beard suddenly appears before her. He woke up because the holy tree worshipped for centuries, inside which he had silently dwelled for almost a hundred years, was cut down. As local god of this village he lost his identity because the village had completely changed. To help him, Satoko now eagerly studies her community's history and, eventually, she restores the saint's nature and position. This tragicomical tale is strongly rooted in popular belief. The time of Japan's modernisation when basic primary and secondary schools were founded all over the country provides the background for this story. (11+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 12
Tonda Kikitori Ehon Seisaku Jikkō Iinkai (text)
Okajima, Reiko (illus.)
Yubikiri genman : Ume-bāchan no hanashi
(Promised! : the story of old Ms. Ume)
Osaka : Kaiho Shuppansha, 2000. [42] p.
ISBN 4-7592-2224-3
Japan/1920-1935 – Minority – Old woman – Childhood memories – Social background – Discrimination
The cheerful illustrations of this book, picturing the childhood memories of an old woman from an underprivileged social class, are drawn in bright colours in the style of popular commercial art. Instead of relating the old woman's misery, they are intended as a proof for the vitality of the so-called Burakumin, a group of people who have been excluded from the Japanese society for centuries because of their social background. The flexibility of the picture book as a medium is evident in this work published by a team of committed people who are striving to shed light on old people's experiences and keep them alive. This topic, hardly ever tackled before, the unusual form of expression in pictures and words alike, and the additional information provided in the appendix will spark off further discussion. (9+) ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 13
Toyoshima, Yoshio (text)
Nagahama, Masako (illus.)
Emirian no tabi
(Emirian's journey)
Tokyo : Ginkasha, 2000. 132 p.
(Toyoshima Yoshio dōwa sakuhinshū; 2)
ISBN 4-434-00028-4
Adventure – Secret – Cleverness – Courage – Open-mindedness
The liberal novelist Yoshio Toyoshima (1890-1955) also left several timeless stories for children and teenagers, which are now being reissued after a long time. This volume contains »Emirian no tabi« (1932) and »Shiro Kuro monogatari« (»The story of the black and the white cats«, 1938). Emirian, an orphan, wanders around the East and the West as an entertainer. He meets robbers, a bat and a hermit, an old woman and the god of death, and many others. With his cleverness and open-mindedness, the boy faces dangers and solves many conflicts. The second tale, a detective story about cats, tackles the secret of an antique dealer. An atmosphere of freedom and cheerfulness is evident in both stories. The text is accompanied by detailed blackand- white illustrations. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 14
Yabe, Mitsunori (text/illus.)
Kaba-san
(Hippos)
Tokyo : Kogumasha, 2001. [36] p.
ISBN 4-7721-0161-6
Father – Daughter – Hippopotamus – Security – Image of the father – Imagination
The small girl is so delighted about the big hippo and its baby in the zoo, that on their way home all people look to her like hippos. As soon as she arrives at home, she wants to copy the two great animals she just watched. A bedsheet is spread out as the pool, and then she forces her father, who would rather have a rest, to »swim« around with her, climbing on his back, on his belly, etc. For small children, the boundaries between reality and fantasy often blur. They are perfectly happy as long as they can live out their own fantasies and enjoy themselves. The author's simple naïve drawings convey the playing girl's huge pleasure and enthusiasm, as well as the feeling of security provided by her father. (2+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2002 - 15
Yoshihashi, Michio (text)
Satake, Miho (illus.)
Ryū to maihime
(The dragon and the dancer)
Tokyo : Kodansha, 2000. 325 p.
Japan/630-792 – Embassy <China> – Boy – Going to Sea – Future expectation – Fate
In the year 777, the Japanese imperial government once again sends ambassadors to China. Fourteenyear- old Komaro, who accompanies the court physician as his servant, intends to stay there and study medicine. In Changan, the capital of the Tang-empire, he meets Kojō, the daughter of a former Japanese ambassador. Yet, fate intervenes, and talented and ambitious Komaro's plans for his future fail. Back in Japan, he loses his position at court and, thus, starts a new life with Kojō caring for people's health. The dangerous crossing, the hustle and bustle in the Chinese capital, the conspiracies at court, etc., are based on sound research and described in a lively style full of details. The surprising outcome of this historical novel is particularly impresssive. (13+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 1
Fukuda, Iwao (text/illus.)
Natsu no wasuremono
(What the summer left behind)
Tokyo : Bunken Shuppan, 2001. 48 p.
(Bunken no sōsaku edōwa)
ISBN 4-580-81291-3
Grandson – Grandfather – Death – Traditions – Mourning – Memory – Love
Years ago, when he was still a toddler, Masaru was very attached to his grandfather. Since he started going to school, however, he prefers playing outside near the river with his friends. One summer day, Grandfather suddenly dies. For the first time, Masaru witnesses the wake, the funeral, and the customs and traditions held for the dead. When everything is over, Masaru, whom the loss has made more sensitive, realises that his grandmother, in her quiet and deep grief, has unconsciously adopted her late husband’s habits. She gives Masaru the grandfather’s straw hat, which the boy takes with him to play. With accurate observation, text and illustrations describe the relationship between grandfather and grandson as well as the emotions of the bereaved family in a very realistic way. (7+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 2
Hattori, Yukio (text)
Ichinoseki, Kei (illus.)
Ehon Yume no Edo kabuki
(The picture book of the wonderful Kabuki-Theatre in Edo)
Tokyo : Iwanami Shoten, 2001. 56 p.
ISBN 4-00-110648-5
Japan/1603-1868 – Theatre – Kabuki
The Kabuki-Theatre, founded at the beginning of the 17century, is one of the traditional Japanese artforms which combines acting, dancing, and music in a unique way. Theatre-expert Yukio Hattori and comic-book artist Kei Ichinoseki have created an extraordinary picture book which resembles a visual encyclopaedia with carefully selected comments. A young apprentice introduces the readers to the magnificent world of the Kabuki. The technique used in the theatre and the building with the busy theatre staff and the enthusiastic audience enjoying the performance are depicted in exterior and interior views in detailed full-page illustrations. Thanks to the ingenious composition of the pictures and the (typically Japanese) bird’s eye view, these elements come alive for the readers. (12+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 3
Higuchi, Michiko (text/illus.)
Origami ichimai
(One sheet of origami paper)
Tokyo : Kogumasha, 2002. [24] p.
ISBN 4-7721-0164-0
Origami – Imagination – Creativity
This origami picture book for small children has an excellent didactic structure. »If you fold the paper once, ...« – this sentence, always invites the children to imitate very simple origami-patterns and invent a story to go with it: a door, various animals, a field, vegetables, etc. One pattern after the other is formed from only a few basic geometric shapes such as a triangle or a rectangle. The series of pictures are put in a special sequence so that they tell a story. The brief accompanying texts are meant for adults reading to their children. With their repetitive words and sentences, they inspire children to repeat them or join in reading them. Forms, colours, and language are easy to remember and seem full of harmony. (2+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 4
Ikegawa, Keiko (text)
Murakami, Tsutomu (illus.)
Hanasaki-mura no nandemo takushī
(The village-of-blossoms taxi for all occasions)
Maisaka : Hikumano Shuppan, 2001. 39 p.
ISBN 4-89317-264-6
Old age – Badger – Metamorphosis – Wedding – Assistance – Literary fairytale
Badger and marten are the main animal protagonists, apart from fox, starring in many Japanese folktales as creatures who are able to transform themselves. As they are still popular today, literary fairytales about these animals can frequently be found. This tale is about some badgers who like taking on human form to get married; for this, however, they need the help of real human beings. The comical scenes in which the slightly naïve and helpless badgers and a kindhearted old couple act together, are drawn delicately and humorously by Tsutomu Murakami in his inimitable original style with reduced colours. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 5
Inoue, Yōsuke (text/illus.)
Tawashi
(The brush)
Tokyo : Shogakukan, 2001. [32] p.
(Ohisama no hon)
ISBN 4-09-727437-6
Boy – Brush – Animals – Way home – Winter
A boy hurries home carrying a brush on his back which he had bought at the grocer’s. On his way home, he is assisted by a snail and a toad who provide faster »transportation«. After some exciting events, he finally reaches the tree that is supposed to be his home. With his brush, he comfortably hangs from a branch like a little bagworm moth inside his bag woven from leaves and tiny twigs and gets some rest. Yōsuke Inoue, the author of many nonsense picture books, illustrates this absurd tale in a very expressive way with his individual sketchy style using earthy colours. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 6
Iwase, Jōko (text)
Kitami, Yōko (illus.)
Kiniro no zō
(The golden elephant)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2001. 182 p.
ISBN 4-03-744440-2
Girl – Everyday life – Emotion
This book contains six complete short stories, which tell scenes from twelve-year-old Hana’s life after school. The stifling banality of everyday life is turned into a highly literary matter when the author links it with Hana’s chaotic emotions. There are many vividly written episodes: The girl’s hallucinations and existential fear while watching the evening sunset, her falling in love with her brother’s friend, her crazy attempts at becoming more beautiful, her meeting a child in the supermarket, Hana’s and her friend’s attempt to run away, the behaviour towards a strange neighbour, etc. Particularly convincing is the clearly outlined picture the author draws of the protagonist. (14+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 7
Matsui, Tadashi (text)
Sai, Kō (= Cai Gao) (illus.)
Tōgenkyō monogatari
(The earthly paradise)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2002. [52] p.
ISBN 4-8340-1799-0
China – Earthly paradise – Peace – Wealth
Since ancient times, »Tōgenkyō«, or »Tao Hua Yuan« in Chinese, has been a well-known synonym for paradise in East Asian cultures, popular in traditional painting, amongst other fields. As his country was continuously shattered by wars, the famous Chinese poet Tao Yaumin (365-427 AD) expressed his longing for peace in a tale about a wonderful, secret place full of peach blossoms where men lived a simple and peaceful life close to nature. In her pictures, painted in traditional style, Cai Gao (= Sai, Kō), one of the most important contemporary Chinese illustrators, shows how a fisherman rows upstream, deeper and deeper into a mountain valley, until he reaches this utopian place. Yet, after his return home, he will never be able to find the place again. (6+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 8
Nagai, Ruriko (text)
Hirano, Tetsuo (illus.)
Moichido aou ne
(Let’s meet once again!)
Tokyo : Dainippon Tosho, 2002. 140 p.
(Kodomo no hon Dainippon Tosho)
ISBN 4-477-01521-6
Girl – Friend – Death – Ghost – Badger – Rebirth – Assistance – Saving
Aki, Asahi’s best friend, is killed in a car crash by a hit-and-run driver. After this shock, injured Asahi suffers from speechlessness and does not dare to leave the house. Dead Aki frequently appears to her as a ghost because she herself cannot yet comprehend her sudden death. Even though Asahi loved her friend very much, these eerie apparitions always frighten her. A strange talking badger wants to help the girl. He becomes the family pet and is very concerned about Asahi’s health. Together, the badger and the girl try to help the dead friend’s soul find peace. This touching story describes the girl’s death and the healing of her surviving friend in an entertaining and sometimes even cheerfully absurd manner. (9+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 9
Okii, Chiyoko (text)
Ishikura, Kinji (illus.)
Sora yuku fune
(Boats to heaven)
Tokyo : Komine Shoten, 2002. 167 p.
(Bungaku no mori)
ISBN 4-338-17406-4
Inland sea – Change – Memory – Environmental damage – World War II – Japan/1944-2001
Setonaikai, the large inland sea in south-west Japan with its more than 300 islands, has always been an important waterway and a perfect living space for humans and animals because of its mild climate. Eight short stories reveal the region’s painful changes after the Second World War, caused by military use and industrialisation, which led to the destruction of the ecosystem. Against this background, the author recalls the islanders’ lives and the once unique beauty of the region, with the real world sometimes turning into a fairytale-like fantastic one. Readers will be deeply moved by the poetic texts and the quiet protest against war and environmental destruction. (14+) ☆ ☼
(42nd Japanese Association of Writers for Children Prize; 2002)

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 10
Shibata, Katsumo (text)
Satake, Miho (illus.)
Sarashina
(<Proper name>)
Tokyo : Akane Shobō, 2002. 317 p.
(Grīn fīrudo)
ISBN 4-251-06655-3
Japan/700-800 – Time-travelling – Princess – Love
A magic gourd creates a connection to ancient times and thus also to the literature of the Heian age. Holding this bottle in her hands, Saki travels through time right into the 8century, where – as princess of the Shōmu Tennos – she is drawn into an intricate love story with palace servant Fuwamaro. This traditional Japanese tale of love can be found in the chapter called »a legend from Takeshiba« from »Sarashina nikki«, a diary by Sugawara no Takasue no musume from the 11century. The partly cheerful, partly melancholy novel is characterised by a clever narrative structure and the depiction of the heroine in two different time levels. To modern teenagers, it offers a successful possibility of approaching old literature. (14+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 11
Shinozaki, Mitsuo (text/illus.)
Okāsan boku dekita yo
(Mother, I can do it!)
Tokyo : Shikosha, 2001. [28] p.
ISBN 4-7834-0269-8
Whales – Young animals – Practise – Success – Happiness
The little whale-child wants to be able to blow fountains of water just like its parents. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it seems and the child has to try again and again and again. One moonlit night, however, the little whale manages to spray water high into the night sky which is covered with millions of stars. The fountain sparkles like the stars and the moon and when it finally turns into the shape of a huge whale, the little one is very proud of himself. The child’s eagerness and happiness about having achieved something great, are reflected in poetic pictures with few colours and almost without text in a childlike manner. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 12
Takadono, Hōko (text)
Iino, Kazuyoshi (illus.)
Shinshi to Obake-shi
(The gentleman and Mr. Ghost)
Tokyo : Froebel-kan, 2002. (3rd ed.) 76 p.
(Monogatari no mori)
ISBN 4-577-02231-1
Man – Lifestyle – Correctness – Ghost – Double – Friendship – Change of roles
Mr. Serious is an excessively correct and serious person. Therefore, his colleagues consider him to be unapproachable. In an old house surrounded by skyscrapers, he lives according to his meticulous schedule. Suddenly, a house ghost, who looks exactly like him, appears to »stir the stiff air inside the house«. From now on, the two of them spend their time together disrupting the orderliness of Mr. Serious, who thus discovers a different side of life. They even exchange roles: Mr. Serious stays at home enjoying the hours of leisure, while Mr. Ghost goes to work and – with his relaxed behaviour – manages to improve his double’s stiff reputation. The expressive pictures support this ironic yet amiable story. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 13
Tatematsu, Wahei (text)
Yokomatsu, Momoko (illus.)
Kawa no inochi
(The river’s life)
Tokyo : Kumon Shuppan, 2002. 32 p.
ISBN 4-7743-0630-4
Boy – River – Experience of nature – Summer – Holidays – Childhood
This is the third book created through the ideal collaboration of author Wahei Tatematsu and his daughter Momoko Yokomatsu. It focuses on the irretrievable pleasures of childhood spent in harmony with nature. Two eleven-year-old schoolfriends have decided to accomplish great things at the river near their homes before they start secondary school. One of them wants to catch a huge carp, the other one aims for a big silver-shimmering dragonfly. A third classmate joins them to learn how to fish. First, however, they need to fathom out the many secrets that the river holds, although it is familiar to them. They practise swimming and diving, and watch the behaviour of the animals. Thus, their last holidays in primary school are packed with intensive experiences of nature. The illustrator interprets single elements of the poetic text in the pictures – such as the boys, fish, and dragonflies, the flowing and gurgling, glittering water, the sky, and the riverbed – in elaborate shapes and pictures them in a vigorous mixture of colours. (10+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 14
Tokyo Kodomo Toshokan (ed.)
Ōkoso, Reiko (illus.)
Vaino to hakuchō hime
(Vaino and the swan princess)
Tokyo : Tokyo Kodomo Toshokan, 2002. 169 p.
(Aizōban ohanashi no rōsoku ; 6)
ISBN 4-88569-055-2
Fairytale – Storytelling
For the past 30 years, Tokyo Kodomo Toshokan (the Tokyo Children’s Library) has done its best to continuously offer storytelling sessions to children and adults. Kyōko Matsuoka (the library’s director) is in charge of these sessions, during which numerous fairytales from all over the world, as well as children’s verses and stories are recited – all adapted particularly for this purpose. From the variety of materials, the editors selected those stories which have proved to be particularly good and suitable, and published them as a collector’s edition. Thanks to the careful adaptation and the lovingly created design, all of the six volumes so far published are not only suitable to be used by librarians, teachers, or educators for similar storytelling events; they can just as well be bought as a wonderful home-reading for children and adults alike. (9+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 15
Tomiyasu, Yōko (text)
Okabe, Rika (illus.)
Mujina tanteikyoku : Yami ni kieta otoko
(Detective Agency Badger : The man who disappeared in the dark)
Tokyo : Doshinsha, 2001. 207 p.
(Mujina tanteikyoku shirīzu) (Shirīzu Jīn dokidoki)
ISBN 4-494-01328-5
Lizard – Assistance – Promise – Metamorphosis – Detective
A guest who suddenly disappears, a woman who claims to be his sister, a burned cello case, a strange smell, traces of water, and a small temple near the lake – all this is circumstantial evidence. The detective nicknamed »Badger«, who specalises in extremely peculiar cases with demons and ghosts, and his young neighbour Genta are asked to solve a seven-year-old case still unsolved at a rich family’s home in the countryside. In this detective novel for children, set in the present, people and animals (in this case a lizard) are combined in a way typical for the Japanese world of legends and folktales. The volumes of the series »Detective Agency Badger« are well written and very original. They offer readers a lot of fun. (10+) ☆ ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 16
Tsuchiya, Fujio (text/illus.)
Tsumiki tsunde motto tsunde
(With building bricks higher and higher )
Tokyo : Tokuma Shoten, 2002. [32] p.
ISBN 4-19-861524-1
Building bricks – Fun
Once again, the author manages to create an amusing and fast-paced picture book focusing on children’s everyday life. His ideas, smartly and energetically turned into words and pictures, are always surprisingly original. In this book, a boy gets so carried away while building a tower with his toy bricks, that he cannot stop anymore. He puts brick on brick on brick until his tower and he himself reach up into space. Suddenly he becomes aware of his audacity and almost tumbles back down to earth but, luckily enough, an astronaut saves him from this precarious situation. The inhabitants of the foreign star recognise the boy’s impressive building skills and shower him with praise. Thanks to the masterly composed dynamic illustrations, the reader gets swept away by the terrific speed of the building game. (5+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2003 - 17
Yoshimoto, Naoshirō (text)
Shinozaki, Mitsuo (illus.)
Nemuri o nakushita kodomotachi
(The restless children)
Tokyo : Poplar-sha, 2002. (2nd ed.) 215 p.
(For boys and girls ; 20)
ISBN 4-591-07049-2
Water spirit – Death – Soul – Friendship – Redemption – Buddhism – Afterlife – Common belief
As his mother is getting married again, Ryōta starts a new life at his grandfather’s in a remote mountain village. At the cemetery, his school teacher and the village priest tell him about the fate of six local children who unfortunately died very young. While fishing alone at the river, the boy meets some Kappa, humanlike green water spirits, which he only knows from fairytales and legends. In this book, however, the author does not describe the Kappa as real water spirits like those common in Japanese folk culture, but as unhappy souls who can be released from their fate through Ryōta’s friendship. The reader is also given some information about rituals for the dead and the afterlife as believed in by Buddhists. (12+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 1
Fukumoto, Ichirō
Seishun haiku o yomu
(Adolescence in haikus)
Tokyo : Iwanami Shoten, 2003. XIV, 180 p.
(Iwanami junia shinsho ; 447)
ISBN 4-00-500447-4
Poetry – Haiku – Youth
A haiku is a poem consisting of three verses with 5-7-5 syllables respectively, which captures the emotional experience of a single moment. Using 60 poems about topics that are suitable for teenagers, such as friendship, love, school life, etc. the author describes the essence and appeal of haikus. Half of the poems were written by pupils, the other half by teachers and well-known contemporary authors. With his sensitive interpretation of the selected works, explaining the seasonal word and the basic rule for each poem, the author introduces haiku poetry to readers and encourages them to write their own. This book is also of interest to readers outside Japan, all the more so as haikus are becoming increasingly popular worldwide. (12+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 2
Hasegawa, Setsuko (text)
Kanaida, Etsuko (illus.)
Ningyō no tabidachi
(The dolls’ farewell)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2003. 206 p.
ISBN 4-8340-0619-0
Home country – Childhood memory – Imagination – This world / Next world
As a child, the author of this book lived in a little town in the Sanin region close to the Japanese Sea. There she learned about many old traditions and regional customs; she witnessed humanity and sad fates. Setsuko Hasegawa weaves mystic and religious elements into her memories and combines them with an impressive description of the surroundings. Thus she creates five unique short stories of high literary quality. The title story, for example, tells of a few broken old dolls, which are placed under a tree on the temple ground by their former owners to soothe their souls. Before the eyes of the protagonist, the dolls disappear into the tree hollow, in which lies the sea Nirwana. In all the stories, wondrous events befall the little heroine, but also some painful ones. The exquisite and aesthetic illustrations highlight the mixture of realistic and fantastic elements in the stories and help readers from other cultural backgrounds to acquire a better understanding of the foreign subject. (13+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 3
Hasegawa, Shūichi [et al.] (ed.)
Shashin de miru haiku saijiki – Juniaban
(Glossary for haiku-poetry with photographs for adolescents)
Tokyo : Komine Shoten, 2003. 71, 79, 79, 71, 87, 87, 87 p. (Vol. 1 and 2: Haru [Spring]; Vol. 3 and 4: Natsu [Summer], Vol. 5: Aki [Autumn]; Vol. 6: Fuyu [Wint
ISBN 4-338-18800-6
Poetry – Haiku – Nature – Season – Symbolism
According to traditional rules, a haiku has to include one word that refers to a season. This lavish seven-volume work gathers about 3,200 of the so-called »seasonal words«, which are introduced in 4,800 haikus by well-known haiku-poets. Detailed information is given about the words’ symbolism and background, which – thanks to the large number of photographs – is easy to understand and lends an encyclopaedic quality to the books. In the appendix, readers will discover some facts about the invention and development of this Japanese form of poetry, about poets, rules, topics, and modes of expression, methods of writing haikus, and their creative reception abroad. This is an informative and inspiring work not only for pupils and teachers, but also for students and haiku-lovers worldwide. (12+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 4
Hino, Kazunari (text)
Saitō, Takao (illus.)
Kaeru no Heike monogatari
(The frogs and the cat : a story inspired by »Heike monogatari«)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2002. [40] p.
(Nihon kessaku ehon shirīzu)
ISBN 4-8340-1854-7
War epic – Frog – Tomcat – Power struggle
In a 7-5-syllable metre, an old toad recites the epic of the rise and fall of the Heike-clan to the frog children. A few chapters from this war tale from the 13century, retold in a parodying manner, are turned into an imaginative picture book. The frogs, the Genji-clan, use a trick to defeat the tomcat, the Heike-clan. The battle is depicted in an elaborate style reminiscent of that in historical paintings: The medieval armour of the frog army consists of petals, thorns, nut shells, and stems of grass and their leaders are riding on grasshoppers. This original book is designed in the manner of emaki (old picture scrolls) and painted in a decorative painting style characteristic for Japan. (5+) ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 5
Matsutani, Miyoko (text)
Segawa, Yasuo (illus.)
Bōsama no ki
(The blind minstrel’s tree)
Tokyo : Froebel-kan, 2002. 38 p.
(Nihon mukashibanashi ; 4)
ISBN 4-577-025-48-5
Blind person – Minstrel – Tree – Miracle – Mercy – Gratefulness – Folk tale
This new edition of an earlier series is a treasure trove for lovers of Japanese folk tales and picture books. The stories are written in a melodious language and in a narrative style peculiar to folk tales. The illustrations, reminiscent of old brush drawings with a folkloristic touch, were painted by the internationally acclaimed and award-winning artist Yasuo Segawa. Volume four displays elements of illustrations from the Tanrokubon (block books), popular in the 17century. It tells the story of the gratefulness of a drowned blind minstrel whose corpse was discovered and buried by a ferryman: A wondrous tree grows from the grave and gives pleasure to the village people. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 6
Mogami, Ippei (text)
Chō, Shinta (illus.)
Otōsan no ki
(The father’s tree)
Tokyo : Kyoiku Gageki, 2003. [36] p.
ISBN 4-7746-0581-6
Father – Death – Grief – Friend – Compassion
This book tells the story of the everyday life of two friends. The father of the first-person narrator’s friend had once found a wounded owl that his son kept as a pet. »Over there, far away on a mountain top, stands an old tree in which some owls have their nests,« the father once said. When he dies, the friend releases his owl. Now, he wants to see his father’s tree himself and, therefore, the two boys climb up overgrown paths. The sensitive narrator shares his friend’s sense of loss and grief for the father. The empathetic text, also suitable for reading aloud, doesn’t really need any illustrations; nevertheless, the pictures – although they restrict themselves to few colours and sometimes only hint at the portrayed objects – lead the readers directly into the boys’ emotional world. (7+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 7
Murakami, Yasunari (text/illus.)
Yama no ofuro
(Welcome to my winterland : the hot springs in the mountains)
Tokyo : Tokuma Shoten, 2003. [32] p.
ISBN 4-19-861768-6
Child – Forest animals – Thermal springs – Winter
Two children go cross-country skiing and come across a little mouse whom they save from freezing to death. Once recovered, the mouse leads them to a secret place with hot springs where the animals of the forest enjoy the warm water. This delightful view in the midst of the snow-covered mountains makes the two children step into the springs and join the animals for a bath. Natureloving artist Yasunari Murakami frequently chooses »nature« as the topic for his illustrations. This time, he makes his readers experience a »steaming« natural paradise in his witty pictures. He presents a snowy landscape, painted in white alternating with warm colours, that radiates with a refreshing and cheerful atmosphere. (3+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 8
Nagita, Keiko (text)
Air = Ea
Tokyo : Kin no Hoshisha, 2003. 236 p.
ISBN 4-323-07030-6
Teenage girl – Parents – Love – Self esteem – Departure – First love – Self awareness
At first glance, it seems as if 14-year-old Ea (Air), daughter of successful parents and pupil at an elitist private school, lacks nothing while in fact she desperately lacks self-esteem and longs to be loved by her parents. Running away from home, the girl ends up in a flat where teenagers with family conflicts can stay for a while. It is a temporary state that might end with self-destructive criminality or lead back into the desired family life. When Ea falls in love for the first time, she realises that loving others can fill the emptiness in one’s own life. Despite the gloomy topic, the transparent and light-hearted language of the text creates a graceful atmosphere. This book underlines the importance of a happy family life. (14+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 9
Nakagawa, Naomi (text)
Murakami, Yutaka (illus.)
Minasoko no hitsugi
(Coffins at the bottom of the lake)
Tokyo : Kumon Shuppan, 2002. 335 p.
ISBN 4-7743-0648-7
Japan/1150-1202 – Priest – Artificial lake
While repairing the dam of the Sayama-ike, the oldest artificial lake in Japan, workers come across some stone coffins of noblemen from the era of the hill graves (4to 7century). During some earlier repairs in the 12century, commanded by the audacious priest Chōgen, these had been inserted into the dam as water channels. Using these facts as a historical backdrop, the author describes the life of the orphan boy Komatsu, who continuously struggles to survive. Komatsu meets with the Chōgen and other people and is fascinated by the symbolic meaning of fire. These experiences motivate him to fight for the artificial lake in his home region. Later in life, he decides to travel to China and learn the craft of porcelain. Descriptions of a variety of historical events let this era come alive. (13+) ☆
(43rd Japanese Association of Writers for Children Prize; 2003)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 10
Nishimaki, Kayako (text/illus.)
Aiueohayō
(Good morning, Syllables!)
Tokyo : Kogumasha, 2003. [24] p.
ISBN 4-7721-0167-5
Syllable – Piglet – Playing – Alphabet
Kayako Nishimaki, whose books perfectly meet the interests and emotions of toddlers, offers a new type of ABC book created exclusively from embroideries and applications. One sunny morning, the piglet triplets jump out of their beds and start playing outside where they are soon joined by a mouse and a mole. The funny scenes and the rhythmical text written in the Japanese Hiraganasyllable- signs, vividly portray the cheerful world of children. The second volume, Bokutachi ichiban sukina mono (That’s what we like best), which uses the same method to teach numbers from one to ten, is also well worth mentioning. Counting-out rhymes, for example, illustrate how the triplets celebrate their fourth birthday. Both books create a warm and comforting atmosphere. (3+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 11
Okada, Jun (text/illus.)
Ryū taiji no kishi ni naru hōhō
(How to become a dragon-slaying knight)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2003. 109 p.
ISBN 4-03-646010-2
Actor – Dragon – Knight – Fight – Future – Wish
Yasuo accidentally left all his things at school. In the evening, when he goes there together with his classmate Yūki to fetch them, an actor in knight’s armour who claims to be a dragon slayer is standing in their classroom. Suddenly, a real dragon appears and a fierce fight ensues in which the children become involved. This unbelievable event does not only strengthen the friendship between Yasuo and Yūki, it also deeply influences their future lives: Yasuo becomes an author and Yūki an actress. This entertaining school story with fantasy elements contains two messages, namely to have dreams for one’s future and to strive to make them come true. (11+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 12
Sonoda, Hisako (text)
Maruki, Toshi (illus.)
Inochi no hana
(The flowers of life)
Osaka : Kaihō Shuppansha, 2003. [36] p.
ISBN 4-7592-2230-8
Japan/1800 – Minority – Origin – Discrimination – Injustice – Arbitrariness
In 1800, the inhabitants of a small village, which today is situated in the urban area of Fukuoka, suffer an incredible injustice. A drunken Samurai who pesters the people around him is beaten up by five citizens. In order to save the face of the Samurai-class, the culprits have to be found and receive capital punishment. Completely arbitrarily, the officials force the Burakumin, a socially less privileged minority, to hand over five men, otherwise all their houses will be burned down. On the basis of the temple’s death register and the orally transmitted stories, the committed author and the well-known illustrator have reconstructed this event very convincingly and denounce injustice and discrimination in powerful pictures. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 13
Suzuki, Yukie (text)
Suezaki, Shigeki (illus.)
Yūhigaoka no San
(Sun, the dog from the hill of the evening sun)
Maisaka : Hikumano Shuppan, 2003. 36 p.
ISBN 4-89317-309-x
Dog – Family – Farm – Everyday life – Seasons
The favourite place of a farmer’s boy is a hill from where he watches the evening sun glide down over the mountains. One day, he finds a small dog there, and although he already has various pets at home, he is allowed to keep it. The dog is an amiable addition to the family and its lively character makes the sick grandmother regain some energy. The boy is therefore terribly sad when the little dog suddenly disappears. Yet, in spring, it is back again bringing its puppies with it and the farm is once more filled with joy. The author’s positive outlook on life is expressed in her depiction of the tea farmers’ daily life. Even if the people and their behaviour are portrayed in a somewhat sketchy way, they still illustrate the change of the seasons and the daily scenes with sufficient detail. (8+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 14
Taniuchi, Kōta (text/illus.)
Donna michi
(What’s the way like?)
Tokyo : Shikosha, 2003. [28] p.
ISBN 4-7834-0281-7
Path – Road – Countryside – Season
Paths we think we know repeatedly show us new faces depending on the time of day, the season, and the mood of the person who walks along it. And what might the road look like behind the next bend or that hill over there? The picture book artist Kōta Taniuchi, who today lives in France, invites his readers to join him for a walk along paths he has once taken: through green fields of wheat, through the rain in the city, along the beach in summer, through the forest in autumn, and towards the trees covered with hoar frost in winter. He expresses his impressions in quiet naïve poetic pictures with few words, leaving plenty of room for the audience to listen to their own feelings and imagination. (3+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 15
Tomiyasu, Yōko (text)
Kajiyama, Toshio (illus.)
Mogaribue
(Mogaribue, the winter wind)
Tokyo : Akane Shobo, 2002. [32] p.
(Akane shin ehon shirīzu ; 14)
ISBN 4-251-00934-7
Wind – Winter – Child – Fear
In haiku poetry, »Mogaribue« is one of the words that symbolise winter. It describes the piercing sound made by a freezing wind blowing across fences, through trees, etc. In the countryside, a small boy wanders off to fly his kite. The sound of the grass and bamboo trees swaying in the strong wind frightens him. When, suddenly, he hears voices and spots a giant tiger in the sky looking like a winter ghost and soldiers who chase it, the boy can no longer stand the menacing, spooky atmosphere and runs home. Accompanied by a gripping and lyrical text, Toshio Kajiyama’s pictures, drawn in his own characteristic style of dots and brush lines, imaginatively illustrate an everyday natural phenomenon. (5+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 16
Uchida, Rintarō (text)
Furiya, Nana (illus.)
Arigatō tomodachi
(Thank you, my friend)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2003. 31 p.
(»Oretachi, tomodachi!« ehon shirīzu ; 6)
ISBN 4-03-232120-5
Friendship – Sea – Fishing – Failure
The friendship between Fox and Wolf, who are very different in character, is fairly exciting. In a humorous way, this series of picture books called Friends, which was started in 1998, describes the difficulties of true friendship in various aspects. Even when the friends are happy together, envy, boasting, or quarrels creep in. But in the end tolerance, compassion, and common sense prevail. Because of the high quality of this series, the (didactic) message is not too obvious. Instead, priority is given to the originality apparent in the vibrant pictures with their delightful details. In volume six of the series, Wolf boasts that he will catch a giant tuna for his friend, but he fails miserably; luckily enough, Fox is quite generous. (5+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2004 - 17
Yoshimura, Keiko (text)
Tajima, Yukihiko (illus.)
Nanashi no Gonbe-san
(The nameless people)
Tokyo : Doshinsha, 2003. 40 p.
ISBN 4-494-01237-8
Disability – Family – Air raid – World War II
War casts a shadow over the life of physically handicapped Momoko. The air raids occur more and more often, her grandfather, usually a very caring person, becomes angrier and angrier, and due to her handicap, she is not allowed to start school. Deeply disappointed, Momoko protests, yet only the neighbouring boys try to comfort her. One day, bombs rain down on the city. The wheelchair with Momoko in it suddenly rolls through the flames, the boys run with her through the sea of fire. Thousands of people perish in the flames. And what about Momoko and the boys? With few words and many expressive pictures from the little girl’s perspective, this picture book manages to convey a convincing portrait of the horrors of war to child readers. (7+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 1
Aman, Kimiko (text)
Yamanaka, Fuyuji (illus.)
Fūta no kazematsuri
(Fūta’s wind festival)
Tokyo : Akane Shobo, 2003. 77 p.
(Shin Akane yōnen dōwa ; 20)
ISBN 4-251-00740-9
Fox – Girl – Metamorphosis – Friendship – Season – Autumn
In Japanese popular belief, the fox is traditionally admired as a god, in folk tales he features as a versatile character who plays all kinds of tricks on people. In modern Japanese children’s literature, however, he is presented as an amiable playfellow – just as in this 4-volume series starring the little fox Fūta. In the last volume, he meets a girl in the forest near a gingko tree. He quickly transforms himself into a boy and helps her collect autumn leaves for her grandmother. In the simple tales, which are connected to the four seasons of the year, the author manages to convey values such as compassion, willingness to help, and friendship to first readers. The pictures created by Fuyuji Yamanaka lovingly confirm this message. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 2
Andersen, Hans Christian (text)
Kadono, Eiko (adapt.)
Sasameya, Yuki (illus.)
Suzu no heitaisan
(The steadfast tin soldier)
Tokyo : Shogakukan, 2004. [34] p.
(Anderusen no ehon)
ISBN 4-09-764102-6
Outsider – Steadfastness – Love
To celebrate the 200th birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, a 10-volume edition of his fairy tales interpreted by different illustrators has been published in Japan. This volume was designed by Yuki Sasameya who is considered one of the most original Japanese artists since the 1990s. The refined naivety of expression and the fascinating choice of colours are characteristic for his expressive style. He sets simple, plane elements against an empty background and thus condenses the story to its very essence. Moreover, he focuses on the soldier’s love for the pretty dancer that finds fulfilment in the flames – an end of complete salvation. This highly emotional interpretation of the text is bound to deeply touch the readers. (6+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 3
Awa, Naoko (text)
Kitami, Yōko (illus.)
Nakushiteshimatta mahō no jikan
(The lost hours of magic)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2004. 337 p.
(Awa Naoko Korekushon ; 1)
ISBN 4-03-540910-3
Meeting – Separation – Other world – Happiness – Loss – Literary fairy tale
When Naoko Awa died in 1993 at the age of 55, she left a huge legacy of literary fairy tales that have a lot of similarities with European ones and are of unique beauty. The book presented here is the first of a 7-volume bibliophile edition of Awa’s collected works containing 71 important tales and more than 40 essays. A characteristic feature of the author’s fairy tale world is that it often focuses on the fate of human beings, animals, and fantastic creatures and the painful meetings between their different worlds. All the protagonists, both real and imaginary, act like humans and in a very realistic way that creates a slightly melancholy mood. Awa’s art of story-telling is characterised by a clear and simple, very poetic language familiar to children. (12+) ☼

Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 4
Furuta, Taruhi (ed.)
Yoneda, Sayoko (ed.)
Yoneda, Sayoko (ed.)
Saitō, Hiroyuki (illus.)
Hisanaga, Tsuyoshi (illus.)
Watashitachi no Ajia Taiheiyō sensō 1 - 3
(Our Asian-Pacific War, vol. 1-3)
Tokyo : Doshinsha, 2004. 325, 293, 299 p.
ISBN 4-494-01816-3 / 01817-1 / 01818-X
Japan/1931-2003 – Asia – Pacific – World War II – Militarism – Peace
The Asian-Pacific War, which ended 60 years ago, is one of the bitter aspects of Japanese history that modern teenagers have to face. In this excellent publication, two children’s literature experts and one specialist for women’s issues are setting out to reappraise the war and its consequences. The firsthand reports gathered here are given both by war victims from various Asian countries as well as from Japan and by Japanese war offenders. The numerous efforts for reconciliation and peace that are undertaken even today among the younger generations prove what a lasting impression war experiences have on people’s lives. All the stories are complemented by comments that illuminate the connection between the individual experiences and historical facts. (13+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 5
Harada, Takehide (text/illus.)
Marumero : Kono hoshi no dokoka mori no hazure de
(Marmelo : at the edge of the forest, somewhere on our planet)
Tokyo : Iwanami Shoten, 2004. [40] p.
ISBN 4-00-110880-1
World – Harmony – Peace – Nature
Snow falls on the ground. Tiny Pacheral, master of philosophy and dreaming, is aroused from his deep slumber by a traveller. Marmelo, the ladybird, tells Pacheral about what he has seen on his journey: wars that destroy men, animals, and nature. The master and the ladybird remember a time when man and nature lived together in perfect harmony. The Earth was beautiful, full of life, love, joy, and music. The poetic little book emanates a quiet sense of hope. Through the dialogue of the two fairy tale-like protagonists and through finely-shaded, rainbow-coloured pictures rendered in watercolour pencils, the artist creates his ideal image of the world. A truly contemplative book. (10+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 6
Kashiwaba, Sachiko (text)
Fujiwara, Yōkō (illus.)
Burēmen basu : Kashiwaba Sachiko tanpenshū
(The Bremen-bus : Sachiko Kashiwaba’s short stories)
Tokyo : Kodansha, 2003. 205 p.
ISBN 4-06-211759-2
Everyday life – Mystery – Life – Reality – Literary fairy tale – Short story
For her mysterious and bizarre short stories about human relationships, the author sought inspiration in motifs from European and Japanese fairy tales: There is suddenly a baby in some plastic bag; a stranger visits a lonely girl and tells her about the »Pied Piper of Hamelin«; a monster shares the flat with a woman after it has finally managed to frighten her; a long distance bus heading to Bremen (Germany) is boarded by three women and a girl who are looking for a new life together. These strange and wondrous events, and many more, quietly intrude upon the protagonists’ daily lives and powerfully influence their unhappiness. The fantasy elements make readers see the reality all the more clearly. (14+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 7
Miyakawa, Hiro (text)
Komine, Yura (illus.)
Sakurako no tanjōbi
(Sakurako’s birthday)
Tokyo : Doshinsha, 2004. [36] p.
(Ehon kodomo no hiroba)
ISBN 4-494-00948-2
Adoption – Identity – Love – Parents
One day, while standing at her aunt’s grave, Sakurako realises that she was born on the same day that her aunt died. She suspects that she may be an adopted child, but at first she doesn’t dare confront her parents with this suspicion. The only thing she knows for sure is that she was named after a cherry tree. In the end, her longing to find out the truth wins. She asks her mother to drive her to that particular cherry tree that grows out of a chestnut’s trunk. There, she finally learns everything she needs to know. This story describes the sensitive girl’s ambiguous feelings as well as the love of the foster parents and of the natural father in a very memorable way. It is complemented by impressive pictures in delicate pastel colours. (8+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 8
Nasuda, Jun
Pētā to iu na no ōkami
(The wolf called Peter)
Tokyo : Komine Shoten, 2003. 365 p.
(Y. A. Books)
ISBN 4-338-14411-4
Youth – Wolf – Rescue – Family conflict – Germany/1945-2003 – Coping with life
A slightly mysterious cover picture by the German illustrator Michael Sowa introduces readers to this innovative and thrilling novel. 14-year-old Ryō, who lives in Berlin, runs away from home in protest. Suddenly, he finds his new friend Akira and himself in the midst of a campaign to catch a pack of wolves trying to escape to the Bohemian Forest. A young wolf loses its way and ends up as pet ›dog‹ with caretaker Max. Yet, when the three of them learn about its origin, they decide to take it back to its pack. This leads to a race between them, the police, and the hunters, at the end of which the wolves are liberated. But this is not the only problem unravelled: The boys’ family conflicts and Max’s personal problems caused by the partition of Germany are also resolved. This multi-layered story, with streaks of contemporary German history cleverly woven into it, is told partly in road movie style, partly in diary form. Every single element keeps its own distinct shape. (14+)
(51st Sankei Cultural Prize for Children’s Books & Publications; 2003; 20th Tsubota Joōji Literary Award)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 9
Niimi, Nankichi (text)
Shinozaki, Saburō (illus.)
Ojīsan no ranpu
(Grandfather’s oil lamp)
Tokyo : Komine Shoten, 2004. 155 p.
(Niimi Nankichi dōwa kessakusen)
ISBN 4-338-20006-5
Village – Way of life – Short story
During his short life, Nankichi Niimi (1913-1943) wrote innumerable stories. 34 of them are now gathered in a seven-volume collection, arranged according to different topics. Set in the countryside, his tales of children and village people, folk tale-like stories, and poetic animal tales all analyse the multi-faceted character of human beings in a humorous or melancholy way. The volume reviewed here is devoted to the keyword ›path‹. Accordingly, the action develops along country roads and the protagonists are trying to find a purpose to their journey through life. Each volume is illustrated by a different artist in an absolutely ideal manner. The selected edition, superbly designed by Hanmo Sugimura, is considered to be a perfect example of how to revive children’s classics. (10+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 10
Okazaki, Hidetaka (text)
Takada, Isao (illus.)
Ten to chi o hakatta otoko : Inō Tadataka
(The man who measured heaven and earth : Inō Tadataka)
Tokyo : Kumon Shuppan, 2003. 247 p.
ISBN 4-7743-0690-8
Japan/1745-1821 – Land surveyor – Selfrealisation – Cartography – Astronomy – Biography
Inō Tadataka (1745-1818) was the head of a renowned family. At the age of 50, when he was finally free from his social and family duties, he set off to fulfil his life-long dream of surveying Japan’s territory with precise instruments. After completing a degree in astronomy, he started to actually walk all the distances he wanted to measure, about 44,000 km in total. Thus, he created maps of Japan that, until 1924, constituted the basis of all cartography there. Set during the Tokugawa era, this well-researched biography both relates the feudal system and particular zeitgeist of that time and paints a vivid picture of Inō’s journey through life determined by his humane and conscientious character, his determination and perseverance. The illustrations aptly depict the scientific knowledge of those times and Inō’s surveying method. (11+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 11
Ōtani, Miwako (text)
Uchida, Mari (illus.)
Wagaya
(My house)
Tokyo : Kumon Shuppan, 2003. 213 p.
(Kumon no jidō bungaku)
ISBN 4-7743-0730-0
Father – Suicide – Daughter – Guilt – Grief
For the past two years, Mamiko has been feeling guilty because her father committed suicide. She cannot even cope with the behaviour of her caring yet overly busy mother anymore. When she accepts a holiday job at her aunt’s and uncle’s place in the countryside, her emotional state slowly begins to improve. Talking to her relatives and meeting other people, who all love Mamiko and respect her personality, makes the girl ponder about life and death. The relationship with all these people is very important for her and provides her with a new sense of hope that helps her overcome her deep grief. This encouraging narrative, intended for those who are left behind after a close friend or relative’s death, fights the all-too common prejudice against suicide. (13+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 12
Sakai, Komako (text/illus.)
Kinyōbi no satōchan
(The girl called Friday-Sugar)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2003. 61 p.
(Luna park books)
ISBN 4-03-965240-1
Child – Imagination
On a warm afternoon, a girl nick-named »Friday-Sugar« sleeps soundly in the garden. Birds and insects gather around her to watch the lovely creature, while her most fervent admirer, a praying mantis, tries to shoo away the other animals that threaten to disturb the girl. A sad boy discovers the »Organ of the Meadow«, which stands silently in the middle of a bare spot of earth, and starts playing it. »Between the nights«, a little girl awakes, dresses in her mother’s clothes, and disappears forever. The fragmentary dream-like texts of this slightly surrealistic book are translated into emotional pictures with black as their predominant colour that immediately capture the readers’ attention. (15+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese/English) - 2005 - 13
Shingū, Susumu (text/illus.)
Cary, Ann B. (transl.)
Kaze no hoshi = Wind planet
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2004. [44] p.
(Nihon kessaku ehoh shirīzu)
(Japanese and English text)
ISBN 4-8340-0615-8
Wind – Earth
Susumu Shingu has earned worldwide recognition for his moveable objects of art that revolve around wind and water. To complete his various projects, he has travelled to the most remote parts of our planet. This expressive picture book, which looks at the Earth in a colourful and original way from the perspective of the winds, is a result of these travels. Depending on the force and type of wind, the clouds, oceans, deserts, oasis, steppe, etc. show different faces. Birds, jumping dolphins, singing trees, people on horseback or in sailing boats can also feel the invisible winds. In the end, the readers sail on the winds right into space where they realise that both the wind and themselves are part of our beautiful Earth. The pictures are accompanied by texts in Japanese and English. (6+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 14
Suzuki, Yukie
Natsu no hanatachi : Hiroshima no kensuisha Une Toshie monogatari
(The summer flowers : the story of Toshie Une from Hiroshima, who offers water to the souls of the dead)
Maisaka : Hikumano Shuppan, 2004. 169 p.
ISBN 4-89317-324-3
Japan/1945-2004 – World War II – Hiroshima – Atom bomb – Dead person – Soul – Offering – Water
In the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, young Miki meets 85-year-old Toshie Une who survived the drop of the atom bomb on August 6, 1945. Thousands of victims of this disaster pleaded for water while they were dying. For the past 50 years, the old woman has attended to the souls of these victims by carrying water from the purest springs in Japan to the many memorials in and outside Hiroshima as a special offering. Since 1974, her act is part of the annual peace memorial service. Because of Toshie Une’s advanced age, a younger person has stepped into her shoes as a representative of the new generation in 2004. By mingling real events with the fictitious tale of Miki and her family, the author makes it easier for young readers to understand this powerful story. (11+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 15
Takadono, Hōko (text)
Dekune, Iku (illus.)
Ruchiasan
(Mrs. Ruchia)
Tokyo : Froebel-kan, 2003. 162 p.
ISBN 4-577-02636-8
Longing
»A place that sparkles promisingly somewhere far away« – this is a symbol for the longing that fills people’s souls. Little sisters Sū and Rūrū dream of this place whenever they look at the glimmering light-blue stone they received as a gift from their ever-travelling father. They are utterly surprised that their new maid Ruchia glows exactly like their precious stone. Years later, when successful Sū learns about Ruchia’s secret, she suddenly remembers the stone. Her sister Rūrū has long since gone off to search the world for the mysterious and promising place. The beguiling prose and the Grand Prix BIB laureate’s black-and-white illustrations, which emanate a dense atmosphere, create a convincing imaginary world of longing. (13+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 16
Tanaka, Yukako (text/illus.)
Konta no otsukai
(Konta goes on an errand)
Tokyo : Tokuma Shoten, 2004. [32] p.
ISBN 4-19-861855-0
Child – Disobedience – Supernatural creature
Little fox Konta goes shopping. When he arrives at a fork in the road, he wonders which path he should take and, despite his mother’s warnings, decides to walk along the unknown one for a change. That’s it. Immediately, a horned demon, a flying mountain troll, and lots of other frightening creatures appear in the forest. Nevertheless, Konta reaches the shop safely. On his way back, he chooses the familiar path at the end of which his mother is waiting for him. Yukako Tanaka successfully balances the fears that supernatural creatures can arouse in children against Konta’s cheerful expression, an ambience of safety, and a witty text. This amusing picture book will delight its readers with surprising effects and graphic ›quotations‹ of traditional Japanese demons. (3+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2005 - 17
Ueda, Maniko (text)
Kajiyama, Toshio (illus.)
Obakesan tono yakusoku
(Manako’s secret promise to a ghost)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2004. 96 p.
(Fukuinkan kessaku dōwa shirīzu)
ISBN 4-8340-0594-1
Child – Fear – Joy – Family – Happiness
As the daughter of a Buddhist priest, Maniko Ueda, a renowned translator of German children’s literature, spent her childhood in the famous temple town of Kōyasan. In 1994, she published her autobiography. Some of the episodes described there are now re-written with a gentle sense of humour and are adapted for children. Little Manako is afraid to go to the toilet because she suspects that ghosts are hiding in it. In the cedar forest close to the mausoleum, there is a well that she finds spooky but is nevertheless drawn towards. Thanks to the characteristic and utterly Japanese illustrations by Toshio Kajiyama, the child’s fears as well as the happy moments inside a family living in unusual surroundings can easily be shared by the readers. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 1
Bulatov, Michail A. (retelling)
Dekune, Iku (adapt./illus.)
Māsha to shiroi tori : Roshia no minwa
(Masha and the white birds : a Russian folk tale)
Tokyo : Kaiseisha, 2005. 26 p.
ISBN 4-03-963860-3
Baba Yaga / Witch Bird Brother – Abduction – Search – Sister
While farm girl Masha is playing in the neighbour’s yard, her little brother is kidnapped by the witch Baba Yaga’s white birds. The girl sets off in search for him but is held up by a stove, an apple tree, and the cheese banks of a milk-river. They all need her help and, in return for her kindness, show her the right way. Iku Dekune interprets this Russian fairy tale with a palette of dark colours mixing oil- and tempera paints on wood panels covered with gesso. The bright red headscarf makes the brave girl stand out from the dark forest, the trees of which look as if they were penetrated by delicate veins. The illustrator’s stylised pictures of the huge forest scenery lend a unique, fantastic atmosphere to the tale. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 2
Hamada, Hirosuke (text)
Imoto, Yōko (illus.)
Korisu no hatsuname
(The squirrel and the bear cub’s paw)
Tokyo : Kin no hoshisha, 2005. [34] p.
ISBN 4-323-03881-x
Squirrel Bear – Friendship – Hibernation – Looking for food
Yōko Imoto is noted for her particular technique of working with Japanese paper. In this book, she takes on an animal tale by the modern classic Hirosuke Hamada (1893-1973). When a young squirrel gives her friend Bear a few grapes as a present, he squashes them and rubs them into his paws as all bears do before they go into hibernation. Thus, when they wake up, they have something to satisfy their hunger. As soon as spring starts, the little squirrel runs to the bear’s den to lick his paws and he awakens. The animals’ friendship and loving behaviour to each other is depicted in warm shades of brown. The largeformat pictures radiate a cosy atmosphere, which even the youngest readers will feel. (2+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 3
Hirayama, Kazuko (text/illus.)
Hirayama, Eizō (ed./photogr.)
Ochiba
(Fallen leaves)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2005. 40 p.
ISBN 4-8340-2141-6
Tree Leave – Autumn – Season
Every year, Kazuko Hirayama used to collect fallen leaves from the different trees in her back yard, the nearby woods, and the mountain lake. With astonishing accuracy, the author shows how colours and shapes vary according to the season or the place where she found the leaves and presents the interesting patterns that can be created with them. Thanks to her meticulous observation and technical skills, the readers can almost feel the surface texture of each leave and also sense Hirayama’s dedication and respect for nature. Together, the pages, on which the leaves are skilfully arranged in subdued shades of colour, and the plain but inspiring comments form a perfect hymn to nature. (9+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 4
Iino, Kazuyoshi (text/illus.)
Negi bōzu no Asatarō : Isogitabi Sobagaki Genemon
(The adventure of the Leek-Boy Asatarō : Wheatflour-Genemon’s rushed journey)
Tokyo : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2005. 32 p.
(Negi bōzu no Asatarō shirīzu; 5)
ISBN 4-8340-2108-4
Compassion Assistance – Adventure – Samurai – Intrigue
Leek-boy Asatarō sets out to see the world. Because of his righteous and sensitive character, he always ends up helping people in need and getting himself into trouble. In this book, the fifth episode of Asatarō’s adventures, the young Leek, his travel companion Garlic-Nikichi, and a samurai strive to prevent an intrigue of the vassals against their master. The tales, in which characters are depicted with vegetable- or fruit-heads, are set in the Edo period and told in the style of the narrative folk-ballad »Rōkyoku«. The endearing pictures, which feature original protagonists with theatrical gestures, bright colours, and film-like perspectives, create an entertaining world in which Good and Bad collide and the good ones naturally win in the end. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 5
Kisaka, Ryō (text)
Yamamura, Kōji (illus.)
Shikishikimura no haru
(Spring in Four-Seasons-Village)
Tokyo : Iwanami Shoten, 2005. [28] p.
ISBN 4-00-115307-6
Child Season – Children’s poetry Four jolly friends – Cat, Dog, Snail, and Tortoise –
enjoy nature all through the four different seasons. Among other things, they discover a sea of flowers, giant clouds, mountains speckled with multi-coloured trees, and the starry sky in winter. Depending on the season, they celebrate the birthday of the forest animals, the insects, the nuts, and the snowmen respectively. The four-volume series, of which this book is the first title, bring alive typical Japanese food, games, natural phenomena, and animals for little readers to enjoy. The highly rhythmic, funny verses by poet Kisaka inspire children to sing along while illustrator Yamamura, who specialises in animated films, adds various visual elements to the text and creates witty scenes. (2+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 6
Mashima, Setsuko (illus.)
Kobayashi, Emiko (concept)
Mate mate mate
(Wait, wait, wait)
Tokyo : Kogumasha, 2005. [24] p.
(Warabeuta ehon)
ISBN 4-7721-0179-9
Baby Crawling – Growth – Communication – Nursery rhyme
»Wait, wait, wait!« that’s what all the cuddly toys shout after the little baby girl who crawls around the room. One after the other, the animals jump up and chase her, until, at the end, even the baby’s mother joins in. The child hugely enjoys being the centre of attention. This simple tale accompanying one of the shortest traditional Japanese nursery rhymes creates a convincing and affectionate picture of the pleasure of playing, of the pride babies feel during their early stages of development, and of the sense of comfort and security that toddlers develop when their expectations are fulfilled by people they trust. (1+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 7
Matsumoto, Takeshi (retelling)
Wu, Jianhua (illus.)
Tenkaichi no yumitsukai
(The best archer)
Tokyo : Shogakukan, 2005. [36] p.
(Chihiro Bijutsukan korekushon ehon; 7)
ISBN 4-09-727239-x
Uighurs Archer – Competition – Folk tale
In this ancient tale from the Uighurs (also spelled Uygurs or Uyghurs), an ethnic minority in northwest China, two archers compete for the hand of the king’s daughter. At first, the proud and rich candidate wins. However, when enemies invade the kingdom, the modest and honest young archer can show his true skills and is awarded the princess as wife. Eventually, the two archers are reconciled. The illustrator created decorative pictures dotted with specks of gold. The rulers and the warriors, ironically depicted with extra-large, green heads, are donned in glamorous historical costumes. Particularly interesting is the clever combination of left and right pages in the book and the way in which the typically Japanese use of blurry water-colours adds an illusion of depth to the pictures. (5+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 8
Ogiwara, Noriko
Fūjin hishō
(The tale of the flute player)
Tokyo : Tokuma Shoten, 2005. 590 p.
ISBN 4-19-862016-4
Japan/1159 Samurai – Dancer – Crow – Love – Power struggle
This delicately composed love story is set against the backdrop of the 1159 power struggle between the Heishi and the Genji warrior tribes, which was lost by the Genji. As he flees, 16-year-old Sōjūrō meets the dancer Itose who, like him, possesses magical powers. People and forest animals are deeply stirred by his flute playing, while Itose’s dancing calms the warriors’ souls. When the former emperor Go-Shirakawa forces the dancer to perform to the music of Sōjūrō’s flute to prolong the emperor’s life, she suddenly vanishes into another world in the middle of the dance. To find her again, Sōjūrō embarks on a dangerous journey assisted by the king of crows. With elements from a famous war epic and from old legends and myths, the author creates a historical fantasy novel embellished with quotations from an ancient anthology of songs. The picturesque scenes and the language, which is partly written in the characteristic style of the old times, will captivate readers of this demanding book. (14+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 9
Sanetō, Akira (text)
Inoue, Yōsuke (illus.)
Fukumochi tengumochi : Sōsaku minwa Buraku no yobanashi
(The mountain spirit Tengu’s fortune rice cakes : tales told in the village at night)
Osaka : Kaiho Shuppansha, 2005. 191 p.
ISBN 4-7592-5030-1
Japan Village – Minority – Origin – Prejudice – Discrimination – Short story
The protagonists of this book are the children of charcoal makers, woodcutters, bear hunters, hatters, and knackers from hamlets in the remote mountain regions of Japan. To help their parents, the children work hard in the forests, villages, and towns and live in abject poverty. Yet, because of their family background, these children are discriminated against by the rest of society. Using traditional folktale elements from the settlements in Western Japan that were segregated from Japanese society, the popular critical author wrote ten short stories about the life of these marginalised people. The illustrations, rendered in Yōsuke Inoue’s characteristic brush strokes, mirror the people’s hard daily life, but also their humanity and faith. (12+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 10
Seo, Maiko
Kōfuku na shokutaku
(Happily around the dinner table)
Tokyo : Kodansha, 2004. 231 p.
ISBN 4-06-212673-7
Father Life crisis – Family – Conflict – Childhood love
A family is devastated and cannot understand why the father tried to commit suicide. Deeply shocked and insecure, the mother leaves the family to regain her own strength. Her husband also gives up his role as a father and his profession as a teacher and starts to reorganise his life. Despite all this, they keep in touch and all family members treat each other with respect and consideration. It takes five years until the family is finally reunited at the dinner table. In a light-hearted tone with a lot of humour, the young author tackles this serious topic and describes the crisis-ridden life up to the new beginning. The unhappy teenage love of daughter Sawako, as well as that of her brother Nao, add some wonderful and dramatic moments to the novel. (14+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 11
Shinozaki, Mitsuo (text/illus.)
Wāi wai yuki
(Hurray, it’s snowing!)
Tokyo : Shikosha, 2005. [24] p.
ISBN 4-7834-0292-2
Child Snow – Winter
While playing outside, a little child discovers the different facettes of snow. When he gently blows against the weightless, delicate snowflakes on his gloves, they turn into tiny drops of water. The next morning, everything is white. The snow sparkles in the bright sunshine. It seems as if thousands of crystal flowers were growing in the sky, on the trees, and on the ground. Under the snow, the child spots a few real flowers a sign of the coming spring. The poetic atmosphere of winter is expressed in a childlike harmonious manner. Thanks to the well-structured distribution of the text on wide fields of colour, the typography in various shades of grey, and the pleasing combination of warm and cold colours, the texture of the soft, wet snow can almost be felt. (2+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 12
Takadono, Hōko (text)
Dekune, Iku (illus.)
Watashitachi no bōshi
(Your cap and mine)
Tokyo : Froebel-kan, 2005. 208 p.
ISBN 4-577-03125-6
Girl Friendship – Secret – Grandmother – Past
When for a while, Saki and her family move into a big old building, the girl discovers a cap left behind in a wardrobe. Inside the house with its winding corridors, long flights of stairs, and strange doors, Saki meets weird people, such as the girl Iku, who wears the same cap as her. They become friends and set off on many adventures together. Through their identical caps, the two girls learn about the past, the relationship between Iku’s grandmother and her old friend, and their connection to the other inhabitants of the house. The author relates this tale in such a mysterious and gripping style that readers will turn each page expectantly until finally all the riddles are solved. The novel’s slightly fantastic atmosphere is underlined by Iku Dekune’s magical illustrations. (11+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 13
Takahashi, Hideo (text)
Miyamoto, Tadao (illus.)
Jīchan no iru iroribata
(The fireplace where my grandfather sits)
Tokyo : Komine Shoten, 2004. 157 p.
(Ohanashi purezento)
ISBN 4-338-17019-0
Grandfather Old age – Family – Understanding
In children’s literature, the grandparents’ role often consists in assisting less experienced young people, while their own wishes are rarely of major importance in this book, however, they are. Kōta’s grandparents live together with his family but the changing Japanese society greatly influences the way families live. Since the grandfather longs to create a familiar place for himself that serves as a connection to his former life, he starts building a hut in the garden with a fireplace. How embarrassing for Kōta’s parents. This could damage their reputation in the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, Grandfather insists on it. In the end, they all sit around the fireplace and Kōta and his sister learn a lot about the life in former times. (10+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 14
Tokuda, Yukihisa (text)
Kusumi, Takuya (illus.)
Mushitachi no omatsuri
(The fair of the insects)
Tokyo : Doshinsha, 2005. [32] p.
(Ehon kodomo no hiroba)
ISBN 4-494-00949-0
Insect Characteristic – Association – Fair
Attracted by the stag beetles’ drumming and the dragonflies’ formation flight, all the insects hurry towards the dandelion field where a huge fair with numerous sales booths and carnival workers is about to begin. There is a labyrinth, a skittle lane, a trampoline, portrait painters, and lots of other attractions to entertain them. Longicorn beetles offer masks made from blossoms and leaves, sac spider families sell caps and jumpers. The author, an insect specialist, assigns the insects jobs that are closely related to their characteristic qualities. The basic information is cleverly woven into the narrative text, which the illustrator translates into simple, entertaining pictures. Thus, while enjoying a funny story, the readers learn a lot about the world of insects. (4+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2006 - 15
Yoshida, Michiko (text)
Fukuda, Iwao (illus.)
Kirameku natsu
(The sparkling summer)
Tokyo : Kumon Shuppan, 2004. 106 p.
ISBN 4-7743-0870-6
Mother Death – Grief – Son
With a lot of sensitivity, the author describes how ten-year-old Tomonosuke copes with his grief after his mother has died. Together with his little sister and the dog he was given by his grandfather, the boy plays funny games but often thinks of his mother. One day, on a construction site in the neighbourhood, he meets a boy who ran away from home to rebel against his alcohol-addicted father. His mother has disappeared and his father suddenly dies in an accident. Tomonosuke’s family take him in until he is given a place in a children’s home. This experience deeply influences the protagonist as he grows up. In this complex tale, the author succeeds in making young readers understand the harsh reality of a child’s world. (9+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 1
Awa, Naoko (text)
Yamamoto, Takashi (illus.)
Yukimado
(The snow window)
Tōkyō : Kaiseisha, 2006. 47 p.
ISBN 4-03-016410-2
Death – Grief – Memory – Longing
In the mountains, an old man sells hot meals from his kiosk on wheels. Even a badger is among his customers, and the animal soon becomes his sociable assistant. One night, a girl with an uncanny resemblance to his late daughter approaches the cart. Still grieving for his long-dead child, the man is so happy about this meeting that he braves the dangerous night and demons and trudges through darkness and snow across the pass to the girl’s village to see her again. With her help, his meals sell particularly well, but afterwards the girl has disappeared for good. In Naoko Awa’s literary fairy tales, death is one of the most common topics. The scenes depicted by Takashi Yamamoto in a folkloristic style vividly express the lonely father’s pain and longing in the dark blue mountains and the cold white snow. (8+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 2
Hino, Kazunari (retell.)
Saitō, Takao (illus.)
Zuiton-san : Nihon no mukashibanashi
(Zuiton, a young novice)
Tōkyō : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2005. 31 p.
(Kodomo no tomo kessakushū)
ISBN 4-8340-2151-3
Novice – Fox – Metamorphosis – Trick – Folk tale
»Zui-ton, Zui-ton!« Someone seems to call the novice who is praying in front of the Buddha statue. He starts searching for the strange voice but can’t find anyone. When he finally discovers a clever fox creating a noise that sounds just like the novice’s name, the animal escapes inside the temple and transforms itself into a second Buddha figure. To unmask the wrong Buddha, the novice plays a trick on the intruder. Takao Saitō interprets this entertaining folk tale in carefully composed, oversized pictures full of subtle effects. The illustrations, painted with attention to small details, offer an authentic presentation of the ancient temple structure. At the same time, they make readers feel the atmosphere of early spring in the countryside and the deep quietness inside the temple. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 3
Imamori, Mitsuhiko (text/photogr.)
Ojīchan wa mizu no nioi ga shita
(The old man who could smell the water)
Tōkyō : Kaiseisha, 2006. 62 p.
ISBN 4-03-016400-5
Japan – Lake – Fisher – Nature – Coexistence – Water – Ecosystem – Cultural history
In this volume, the award-winning photographer Mitsuhiko Imamori introduces the way of life of an old fisherman and his wife living in a small community at Lake Biwa, not far from Kyoto. For many months, the author accompanied the couple and recorded the sound relationship between nature and the village people. His pictures include an aerial shot of Japan’s largest lake and views of the village surrounded by small rivers and wells, the fisherman’s house, the path to his fishing grounds, and of the man himself at work. Imamori combines his beautiful and impressive photographs with texts that respectfully illustrate the great love and care with which the fisherman looks after his boat, his tools, and the lake, and celebrates his thanksgiving prayer at home. (6+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 4
Itō, Hiroshi (text/illus.)
Neko no namae
(Naming a cat)
Tōkyō : Tokuma Shoten, 2006. [34] p.
(BFC)
ISBN 4-19-862173-x
Name – Identity
In this book, Hiroshi Itō again proves how cunningly he can express emotions and abstract terms with his simplifying, slightly naïve style. A stray tomcat is always addressed as »stray«, »cat«, or »thief« by humans and therefore longs to have a proper name. Strolling around the park, he meets a girl who – like every human being – does have her own name: it’s Satchan. When he asks her to help him and find a suitable name for him, the girl at first ignores the dirty skinny cat. Yet, once she realises how terrible it must be not to have a name, Satchan agrees to fulfil his wish. The cat however is not easily satisfied with her suggestions, which leads to a humorous dialogue between the two, covering complex topics such as the question of identity. (5+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 5
Katayama, Reiko (text)
Sasameya, Yuki (illus.)
Buriki no onpu
(Tin note)
Tōkyō : Āton, 2006. [32] p.
(Āton no bungei ehon)
ISBN 4-86193-063-4
Life – Senses – Emotion – Music
Poet Reiko Katayama’s cosmos is full of feelings and emotions, memories and dreams. Everything around her, her whole everyday life, seems to her like music composed of moments past and present. In the first poem, for example, she describes a heart walking down a tin staircase of musical notes. Yuki Sasameya joins in this sensual world and, in his pictures, offers his own visual interpretation of the music. The melancholic double-page illustrations in dark colours dominate the large picture book with the 14 prose poems placed on the pages almost inconspicuously. This book, created by two very individual artists, provides readers with double the pleasure. (15+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 6
Kawana, Shizuka (text)
Yamaguchi, Mao (illus.)
Kamisama no iru mura : Shiramazu ōmatsu monogatari
(The village in which gods are present : the story of the great Shiramazu-festival)
Hamamatsu : Hikumano Shuppan, 2006. 183 p.
ISBN 4-89317-355-3
Japan – Village – Gods – Festival – Preparation – Tradition – Shinto
Two boys are cheerfully fishing near the harbour of their small fishing village. They don’t know yet that they will take over the most important roles at the great village festival. Before being allowed to play messengers of the gods Sun and Moon, they will have to fulfil ritual tasks for 50 days and show enormous self-discipline. The Shiramazu Festival, celebrated on the Bōsō peninsula in Eastern Japan, has been in existence for one thousand years. To organise the celebration, all village people need to work together. It has always been an essential element of the festival that children take centre stage. Using the two fictitious protagonists, the author introduces this unusual topic to young readers and sheds light on the secret of the festival’s continuing existence until today. (11+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 7
Kutsuki, Shō (text)
Yamauchi, Fujie (illus.)
Kawatare : Sanzaigaike no kappaneko
(The break of dawn: the Kappa-cat from the Sanzai-Lakes)
Tōkyō : Fukuinkan Shoten, 2005. 269 p.
(Fukuinkan sōsaku dōwa shirīzu)
ISBN 4-8340-2148-3
Child – Loneliness – Helplessness – Pondering – Lack of confidence – Kappa <water sprite>
Humankind’s interference with nature threatens the existence of the »kappa«, Japanese water sprites. Thus little Hassun, whose family is already missing, gets sent to the humans to gather experience and knowledge about them – not an easy task. Transformed into a cat, the young kappa finds shelter with Asa, who is suffering from self-doubt since her mother’s death. The girl and her mother used to observe the world thoughtfully and thus discovered many precious moments and objects in their everyday life. Now Asa is left to ponder »appearance and reality« on her own and becomes more and more insecure. Still, thanks to her reflectiveness, she is able to recognise Hassun’s true form. This novel intensely describes in a literary style the lonely and helpless protagonists, whose fate eventually changes for the best. (12+) ☆

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 8
Mizuno, Masao (illus.)
Happa
(Leaves)
Tōkyō : Shōgakukan, 2005. [26] p.
(Shizen to asobou)
ISBN 4-09-727821-5
Nature – Leaf – Imagination
An owl family is sitting on branches in the forest; beetles, dragonflies, and other insects are gathering in the trees while numerous fish are being caught at the river. Masao Mizuno creates these outdoor scenes with all the animals fashioned from leaves and carefully placed in their natural surroundings. The author’s great creativity also makes some comical forest spirits and gnomes as well as various vehicles come to life on the pages. Two goblin-like dolls, modelled by the artist from twigs, accompany the readers on their journey from page to page. This imaginative photo-picture-book, which even includes step-by-step instructions about how to craft and play with objects from your immediate surroundings, keeps many a surprise in store for its readers. (3+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 9
Nasuda, Jun
Ichioku hyakuman kōnen saki ni sumu usagi
(The hare who lives 101 million light-years away)
Tōkyō : Rironsha, 2006. 339 p.
(Rironsha no YA! shirīzu)
ISBN 4-652-07787-4
Life – Love – Family – Friendship – Happiness – Adolescence
When Shōta’s father loses his job, the family moves to another town to build up a new existence. In the new neighbourhood, the boy meets various people whose lives are deeply affected by love. A professor, for instance, whose granddaughter came to Japan from Germany to look for her father, still suffers from a long-standing, bitter family conflict involving his son’s love-story. This multi-faceted teenage novel describes the daily routine of the adolescent boy who finally falls in love with a classmate. The author skilfully weaves a German legend, film music, and an imaginary hare into the fictional reality and thus creates a truly original book. (14+)

Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 10
Oka, Shūzō (text)
Sasameya, Yuki (illus.)
Uso ga ippai
(All kinds of lies)
Tōkyō : Kumon Shuppan, 2006. 111 p.
ISBN 4-7743-1147-2
Lie – Everyday life
At home, at school, or in one’s spare time, there are endless situations when people lie for the sake of their own advantage or out of compassion for friends. Ryū figures out that he tells an average of three fibs per day. If he continued like this, he would have lied 1095 times by the end of one year. What a huge amount of untruths! Suddenly made aware of this fact, the eleven-year-old boy starts to analyse lieprone situations and examine the reasons behind these lies. It’s amazing how complex lies can be. In this amusing quasi-philosophical book, young and older readers will learn how people try to come to terms with falsehoods and untruths in their everyday lives. The book also strives to make people think more thoroughly about the lies within their lives. (10+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 11
Satō, Satoru (text)
Murakami, Yutaka (illus.)
Tengu dōji : Nihon fushigibanashi
(The Tengu-Boy : a strange story from ancient Japan)
Tōkyō : Akane Shobō, 2006. 311 p.
ISBN 4-251-09837-4
Tengu <mountain demon> – Boy – Adventure – Imaginary world
»Tengu« are mountain demons often dressed like ascetic mountain monks. They have magic fans that enable them to fly and are waited on by raven-like creatures called »Karasu-tengu«. One night, a tengu with his servant Kurōmaru turns up on the doorstep of old ranger Yohei, who is well-known for his excellent flute playing. At the request of his master, Kurōmaru is to learn how to play the flute. Therefore, he assumes a human shape and spends the next few years with Yohei, who grows very fond of him. Yet, from the moment that Yohei burns the wings of his student’s raven-coat to force him to remain human and stay with him, the relationship between the human beings and the tengu becomes turbulent. Set against the backdrop of the war-torn 16th century, the mysterious tale turns into a breathtaking adventure culminating in the discovery of Kurōmaru’s family background: He was the son of a samurai kidnapped by the tengu as a child. This masterpiece of a novel takes its readers into the magic world of ancient Japan. (12+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 12
Takeda, Tsuyoshi (text/photogr.)
Nankyoku no korekushon
(Collection South Pole)
Tōkyō : Froebel-kan, 2006. 48 p.
(Fushigi korekushon; 5)
ISBN 4-577-03249-X
Antarctica – Expedition
Photographer Tsuyoshi Takeda accompanied the 45th Japanese expedition to Antarctica and stayed there for more than a year. He does not only show the terrific landscape, natural phenomena, and animals down there. He also describes research and current environmental problems facing the cold continent and portrays the working day of the crew at the research station and in inner Antarctica, where the temperature often drops below minus 60°C. The marvellous photographs arranged by topic and the child-friendly layout create a lively and diversified visual rhythm. Complemented by scientific comments, geophysical information, and accounts of Takeda’s personal experience, the pictures give readers the impression that they themselves have joined the expedition. (7+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 13
Taniuchi, Kōta (text/illus.)
Tōi tōi oka
(A hill somewhere far away)
Tōkyō : Shikōsha, 2005. [26] p.
(Bukku kurabu kokusaiban ehon)
ISBN 4-7834-0290-6
Shepherd’s dog – Shepherd – Flock of sheep – Daydream – Longing
After a long march, the shepherd and his flock reach a hill. While the sheep start grazing, the man and his dog relax. The endless sky stretches across the vast grassy plain. Suddenly, the sheep fly into the sunset and become indistinguishable from the little clouds in the sky. Not even when night falls, do they return. However, the following morning, with the first warm rays of sunshine, the sheep are back again. Where have they been? Was it only a dream? The picturesque, quiet illustrations, which perfectly express the vastness of the sky and the meadows in the respective shades of colour for each time of the day, will awake the readers’ longing for faraway places. Kōta Taniuchi is a true poet of colours. (3+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 14
Tōkyo Kodomo Toshokan hen (ed.)
Ōkoso Reiko (illus.)
Ame nochi hare
(After the rain, the sun comes out)
Tōkyō : Tōkyō Kodomo Toshokan, 2005. 174 p.
(Aizōban ohanashi no rōsoku; 7)
ISBN 4-88569-056-0
Fairy tale – Storytelling
Volume Seven of the »Candlelight Stories«, a series of bibliophile anthologies, presents – among other things – a Japanese version of »Cinderella« called »Nukafuku Komefuku« (The farmer’s daughters Rice-Bran-Luck and Rice-Luck). Beautiful Rice-Bran-Luck achieves happiness not only thanks to her sock but also because she wins a poetry contest against her sister; this is an interesting contrast to the European variants of this tale. The fairy tales included in this book have been adapted by Kyōko Matsuoka, the head of the Tokyo Children’s Library, and her colleagues. The team draw on their extensive experience in storytelling to make the tales more attractive to the audience. The whole series is a wonderful reading experience for children and other fairy tale lovers. (9+) ☼

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 15
Tsubota, Jōji (text)
Tsubota [et al.], Rikio (ed.)
Ishikura, Kinji (illus.)
Mahō
(Magic)
Tōkyō : Komine Shoten, 2005. 168 p.
ISBN 4-338-20401-x
Child – Everyday life – Short story – Folk tale
This volume is part of the four-volume edition of selected works written by the classic children’s book author Jōji Tsubota (1890-1982). The story that this volume was named after tells of the argument between two brothers who are fascinated by magic. Tsubota’s tales, which mirror both the author’s own life and his times in general, vividly describe the everyday routine and the mindset of children without neglecting the hard life of adults. The other three volumes, comprised of both original works and retellings of Japanese folk tales, are illustrated by Mitsuo Shinozaki, Yuki Sasameya, and Yoshirō Matsunaga. The black-and-white pictures masterfully enable readers to relate to the ancient past as well as to the daily life at Tsubota’s time. (11+) ☆

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 16
Yamamura, Kōji
Animēshon no sekai e yōkoso : Karāban
(Welcome to the world of animation)
Tōkyō : Iwanami Shoten, 2006. IX, 158, 14 p.
(Iwanami junia shinsho; 538)
ISBN 4-00-500538-1
Animation – Film aesthetics
Kōji Yamamura is one of the representatives of artistic animated films in Japan. He writes the scripts, directs and animates his films himself, and takes part in many international film festivals. In this compact little paperback book with numerous colourful pictures, Yamamura explains the history of animated film, taking popular historical people as examples. In addition, he shows the production process of his own works that are characterised by a strong sense of individuality and a rich variety of techniques employed. When he was only 14, he discovered the fascination of animation and has consistently pursued his teenage dream ever since. That is why his plea for creativity and individuality is so convincing for young readers. (13+)

Special Mention - Japan (Japanese) - 2007 - 17
Yoshihashi, Michio (text)
Satō, Makiko (illus.)
Namakura
(The weakling)
Tōkyō : Kodansha, 2006. 225 S.
(YA! Entertainment)
ISBN 4-06-269354-2
Kyoto/1850-1900 – Boy – Poverty – Coping with life – Conscience
The seven short stories of this book are set in Kyoto during the second half of the 19th century. They focus on boys who are suffering from poverty or are at the mercy of political circumstances. While one of them is forced to work as rickshaw-driver, others slave away at the quarry, in factories, or at similar places. All of them have reached a critical point in their lives: They need to decide what their future shall be like because it is often tempting to resort to theft and deceit in order to escape poverty. The very concisely written stories immediately make readers identify with the protagonists. Despite the harsh reality described, readers will sense the great amount of trust and hope that the author has in his young heroes. (13+)
(43rd Noma Award for Juvenile Literature; 2005)