by Kimiko Kajikawa, Ed Young

Ojiisan, the oldest and wealthiest man in the village, doesn't join the others at the rice ceremony. Instead he watches from his balcony. He feels something is coming-something he can't describe. When he sees the monster wave pulling away from the beach, he knows. Tsunami! But the villagers below can't see the danger. Will Ojiisan risk everything he has to save

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Ojiisan, the oldest and wealthiest man in the village, doesn't join the others at the rice ceremony. Instead he watches from his balcony. He feels something is coming-something he can't describe. When he sees the monster wave pulling away from the beach, he knows. Tsunami! But the villagers below can't see the danger. Will Ojiisan risk everything he has to save them? Can he?

Illustrated in stunning collage by Caldecott winner Ed Young, here is the unforgettable story of how one man's simple sacrifi ce saved hundreds of lives. An extraordinary celebration of both the power of nature and the power each of us holds within.

Editorial Reviews

Kristi Jemtegaard
Kajikawa's nuanced storytelling melds with Young's layered and textured illustrations to create a harmonious whole.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

An earthquake, a fire, a tidal wave and selfless heroism, all packed into 32 pages, guarantee that this story will hold the attention of even the most restless listeners. Four hundred villagers are saved from death when Ojiisan, a wealthy old rice farmer on the mountainside, feels tremors, sees the ocean recede and realizes a tsunami is coming. Caldecott Medalist Young's (Lon Po Po) collages-elaborate combinations of media ranging from cut and torn paper to photos of straw and bamboo-build steady tension as Ojiisan, disregarding his grandson's horror, sets his ripened rice fields alight in order to lure the villagers to higher ground. The double-page spread in which the monstrous, cresting black wave looms conveys real terror. Kajikawa's (Yoshi's Feast) portrait of an old man who acts unhesitatingly against his own interests delivers a forceful message, and the moral does not get in the way of the action. Ages 3-5. (Jan.)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The destructive power of a tsunami was in the news not long ago. But Kajikawa has gone back to a legendary story by Lafcadio Hearn for this tale of the tsunami's terror, and of the courage and sacrifice of a wise old rice farmer. On the day of the celebration of the autumn rice festival down in the village, Ojiisan and his grandson Tada stay home atop the mountain, because Ojiisan feels that something is not right. There is an earthquake, but not severe enough to concern them. But then Ojiisan sees the sea running away from the land, and remembers what his father told him about tsunamis. With Tada's help he sets fire to his rice crop to draw the people away from the shore. The villagers are puzzled at his sacrifice, until they hear and see the tsunami. The village is swept away, but the people are saved. Years later, "villagers still give thanks to the good farmer who burned his rice fields to save the people." The terrifying wave on the jacket with bits of broken huts scattered on the surface of the dark water predicts the emotional turmoil of the story within. The visual tale occupies most of each double-page spread with the few lines of text in white on framed black running along the bottom. Young uses gouache, pastel, and torn paper collage to create gripping melodramatic scenes. Some include tiny figures, while others sweep across the double pages in wide areas of color. The title in torn gray and white paper stands out from the double page of black. The orange end papers give an emotional lift to the darkness within. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

Wealthy Ojiisan suffers a feeling of foreboding as he watches colorful rice festival celebrations from his cottage high above his village by the sea. In his mountaintop home, he feels a spongy earthquake and observes bizarre movements in the sea: tsunami! How can Ojiisan alert the townspeople? Young uses a panoply of papers to create collages that tell the story of a sacrifice that saved hundreds of lives. Patterned and marbled papers, fibrous grass cloth, translucent rice paper and tissue, photographic magazine papers, and even corrugated cardboard are keenly cut, roughly torn, layered, wrinkled, mounted, and manipulated to produce images that range from dead calm to the sea-spittled tumult of a roiling vortex that promises to consume everything in its path. The art reflects the frenzy of the events and is a departure from the more serene, controlled, and balanced work we know of Young. Kajikawa has based the character of Ojiisan on Japanese hero Hamaguchi Gohei, who in 1854 set his own rice-stack harvest ablaze, diverting the attention of revelers and drawing them away from impending disaster. A simple story of the power of a simple act.-Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT

Kirkus Reviews
Through quick thinking and personal sacrifice, a wise old Japanese farmer saves the people of his village from a devastating tsunami in this simple yet striking story based on Lafcadio Hearn's "A Living God." Ojiisan lives in a cottage on a mountain overlooking the village and sea. One day, villagers gather to celebrate the rice harvest, but Ojiisan stays home thinking "something does not feel right." When the earth quakes and the sea darkens and runs away from the land, Ojiisan realizes a tsunami approaches. Fearing the oblivious villagers will be swept away, Ojiisan torches his rice fields to attract attention, and they respond, barely escaping the monster wave. Rendered in gouache, pastel and collage, Young's illustrations cleverly combine natural textures, bold colors and abstract shapes to convey compelling images of chaos and disaster as the rice fields burn and the wave rushes in. In one literally breathtaking double-page spread, an enormous wall of water engulfs the teeny seacoast village. A visually powerful and dramatic tribute to one man's willingness to sacrifice everything for others. (Picture book. 3-5)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.70(w) x 11.70(h) x 0.50(d)
NC620L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Caldecott medalist Ed Young was born in Tientsin, China, and brought up in Shanghai. He cites the philosophy of Chinese painting as an inspiration for much of his work. "A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words," he explains; "they are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe."

Mr. Young has been illustrating children's books for more than twenty years and has won many awards. He received the 1990 Caldecott Medal for his book Lon Po Po, and his much-lauded collaboration with anthologist Nancy Larrick, Cats Are Cats, was named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 1988 by The New York Times.

Mr. Young studied at the University of Illinois, the Art Center of Los Angeles, and Pratt Institute in New York City. He and his family live in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

copyright 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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