Mourning their father, who died in a war that also left their home in ruins, Taichi and his sister Yumiko decide to help an old man who is wrapping a damaged cherry tree in straw mats as protection against the cold, in the hope that--for the first time since war began--the tree will bloom. During the winter, animals continue to shelter beneath the tree; spring brings ""a froth of flowers,"" a comforting symbol of renewal to the war-torn village. The story here is minimal, but the image is compelling. McCaughrean's translation of the Japanese original has poetic vigor and grace, while Wildsmith contributes the best work he has done in some time: his colors are lush yet tender, his stylized creatures beautifully integrated into the designs of his oversize double spreads, his snow both decorative and evocative--while the tree in full bloom radiates pure joy. Lovely.