Earlier this week Tony inquired as to when we might expect the next Japanese Literature Challenge. I only run the challenge from June until January because I feel it’s nice to take a break and build enthusiasm for beginning again. But, the minute he asked I felt my thoughts start whirling in preparation. I have built the Japanese Literature Challenge 7 review site, as yet undisclosed, but I will give you a hint about the button for this year. It is a piece of artwork from Aki Sogabe, who makes beautiful pictures with kiri-e, the art of paper cutting.
|Aki Sogabe working on her art.|
For now take a look at some of her pictures I especially like:
The piece I have chosen comes from an illusturation she did in a children’s book, and it depicts one of my favorite themes: camping in the woods on a moonlit night. Taking an illustration from a children’s book made me think of creating more structure for our reading. Until now, I have left it very open: choose at least one piece of Japanese literature to read and review.
But, this year I am going to have a monthly theme. It is not a required theme, of course, but an optional umbrella under which you can organize your reading if you so choose. Why not begin June with reading Japanese children’s literature? It is a delightful entree into the genre, and might be just the kind of thing to spark the interest of someone hesitant to try Japanese literature. I set before you the following titles:
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say: “A picture book masterpiece from Caldecott medal winner Allen Say…Lyrical, breathtaking, splendid—words used to describe Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey when it was first published. At once deeply personal yet expressing universally held emotions, this tale of one man’s love for two countries and his constant desire to be in both places captured readers’ attention and hearts.” ~Barnes and Noble
Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes: “Hiroshima-born Sadako is lively and athletic–the star of her school’s running team. And then the dizzy spells start. Soon gravely ill with leukemia, the “atom bomb disease,” Sadako faces her future with spirit and bravery. Recalling a Japanese legend, Sadako sets to work folding paper cranes. For the legend holds that if a sick person folds one thousand cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again. Based on a true story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes celebrates the extraordinary courage that made one young woman a heroine in Japan.” ~goodreads
Crow Boy: “A shy mountain boy in Japan leaves his home at dawn and returns at sunset to go to the village school. Pictures and text of moving and harmonious simplicity”. ~Saturday Review
These are three of my favorite Japanese children’s books, and only serve as a starting point should you wish to read in this category. For now, I hope to have whetted your appetite for Japanese literature and the Japanese Literature Challenge 7 to come. I promise to have exciting themes, occasional prizes, guest posts, and an enormous list of titles from which you can choose. Please consider joining us this June.