This stylish volume, printed in both Japanese and English on facing pages, is an outstanding contribution to the growing number of books that introduce American readers to other cultures. Mado, the foremost contemporary poet writing for children in Japan, offers verses that are delicate, thoughtful and quiet--small gems that reflect the poet's intense affinity for nature. Butterfies ``fold themselves / In half / Modestly,'' and the swan ``stands out clearly / As if some sort of joy'' made it ``especially visible.'' Equally spare and understated, Anno's artwork--by repeating a single border of entwining animal shapes rather than illustrating individual poems--invites the reader to focus on the words themselves. The milk-white paper cuts on beige pages sustain a tone of classic simplicity which is echoed in the poems. Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Anno and the Empress of Japan, a poet in her own right, have made Mado's pensive poems for children easily approachable for a wider audience. All ages. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-- Mado reveals himself as a strong voice in children's poetry. These poems generally display a different sensibility from English language verse, ranging from the short, epigammatic ``Zebra'' (``In a cage/ Of his/ Own making,'') to the longer ``Ah, From Somewhere . . .'' that laments that the mailman never notices the faithful sparrows and snails who see him off each day. The title piece, rightly saved for the last, touchingly and pithily examines humanity's separation from the rest of creation. The translations are quite literal, but strikingly rendered; they refreshingly retain Japanese onomatopoeia instead of substituting more familiar English equivalents. Their suppleness, level of language, and beauty show a formidable and astonishing command of English and its verse. Each selection appears in the original Japanese on the left-hand page with its translation on the right. Anno has produced two papercut borders that are repeated along the bottom of each successive spread; these daintily depicts about 18 animals, some of which appear in the text. The pages are beige, and although the monotony of color and repetition of illustration may soon pall, these beautiful and thought-provoking works will be returned to as a source of inspiration for young poets and dreamers. --John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Janice Del Negro
A collection of 20 poems, artfully written and gracefully staged. Presented in Japanese with the English version on the facing page, Mado's poems are set against buff-colored backgrounds that are bordered in white and ornamented with cut-paper animal friezes. Included are poems about a variety of animals, the swan among them: "You stand out clearly / As if some sort of joy / Made you / Especially visible." An accessible title that will draw a wide range of readers, this fine combination of content and design will have a multitude of uses. It is a handsome piece of bookmaking in which the design beautifully echoes the elegant restraint of the poetry.