Potentially one of the most significant mangas in years, this engrossing book is certainly one of the most unusual: a long, realistically drawn narrative about a young couple coping with the discovery that their infant son is autistic. Masato and Saachiko Azuma need time to realize that their beautiful little boy, Hikaru, is unable to communicate personally. The official diagnosis of autism confuses and devastates the parents. Masato dives headlong into his career to avoid home; Sachiko is angry at Hikaru's behavior, but also tormented by guilt that she's somehow to blame. As they learn and experience more, they become closer to Hikaru and each other. They meet helpful allies, collide with ignorant hostility and savor glimpses through cracks in Hikaru's shell. They become a family. As this volume ends, the three of them are adjusting to a new family member-Hikaru's normal little sister. The story works as a comic. too; fluid layout keeps the action moving through pages of talking-head conversations, and the childish innocence of manga characters has never been more appropriate. Just as Tom Batiuk used breast cancer as a basis for his outstanding Lisa's Story, so With the Lightalso offers a moving, artistically successful experience. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
With the Light... Vol. 1: Raising an Autistic Childby Keiko Tobe, Akita Shoten (Illustrator)
Born during the sunrise - an auspicious beginning - the Azumas' newborn son is named Hikaru, which means "light". But during one play date, his mother notices that her son is slightly different from the other children. In the alternately heartwarming and bittersweet tale, a young mother tries to cope with both the overwhelming discovery of her child's autism and the trials of raising him while keeping her family together. This is a story that resonates not only for those whose families have been affected by autism, but also for all past, present, and future parents.
Sachiko and Masato delight in their first child, but Hikaru doesn't act like other kids. He cries too much, shuns hugging, doesn't talk, doesn't respond to people, and loves repetitive behavior. Hardworking salaryman Masato hasn't much sympathy, so Sachiko takes the brunt of the "bad mother" accusations until they learn that Hikaru has autism and a differently wired brain. Although issue-oriented manga are common in Japan, manga about disability have been uncommon owing to concerns about discrimination. However, now up to ten volumes, With the Lightwon an award from the Japan Media Arts Festival for its sensitive yet sturdy portrayal of a family surviving such discrimination and growing together through difficulties. Neighbors, relatives, other children, daycare, and eventually the school all pose challenges for youngsters with social and learning disabilities like autism. The family surmounts each obstacle by working together and finding helpful others, showing readers what to expect with autistic children and how to raise them. Extras include translation notes and several essays from Japanese mothers of autistic children. The lovely shojo-style art will appeal to women readers especially. An excellent addition to public library collections on child rearing. While fiction, this needs appropriate nonfiction catalog headings.
Gr 10 Up
This is the first installment, containing volumes one and two, of an established, award-winning Japanese series newly translated into English. The book follows a young family coping with their son's autism and everything that that entails for the mental and physical health of all involved. They and their extended family become confident caregivers and advocates. One of the themes is that everyone has something to overcome. An explanation of how to read manga, a chart of Japanese honorifics, and cultural notes help those who may be unfamiliar with the format. Light succeeds in the best way; as educational and informative as it is, it also makes readers aware of its fine story and expressive artwork.
Dana Cobern-KullmanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Meet the Author
Keiko Tobe was an acclaimed Japanese manga artist whose masterwork With the Light strove to bring the everyday struggles of raising a child with autism to a wider audience. With the Light earned her the Japan Media Arts Festival's Manga Division Excellence Prize in 2004, and the series was also adapted into a critically-acclaimed drama series in Japan.
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