A combined picture-book biography and brief anthology of poems by Japan’s foremost 20th-century poet for children.
In her brief life, Misuzu Kaneko wrote and published hundreds of poems exploring the feelings of snowflakes and sardines, whales and birds. After her death, though her work was translated into many other languages, Misuzu’s poetry fell into obscurity in Japan, revived only following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Tohoku. The biographical portion of the book, by journalist Jacobson, covers Misuzu’s triumphs and tragedies, incorporating 10 poems that reflect her interest in the natural world and her gift for investing creatures and inanimate objects with unique perspectives. This section also sensitively addresses Misuzu’s suicide at age 26, following the swift progression of a then-untreatable sexually transmitted infection contracted from her husband. The second half of the book, which can be read along with the biography or separately, comprises 15 more of Misuzu’s poems—presented in both the original Japanese and in translation—accompanied by warm, thematically related illustrations. Each brief poem addresses nature, children’s observations, or both, in language that will be both accessible to the youngest readers and thought-provoking for adult caregivers.
Striking, memorable imagery—a lost hat enjoying a new life as a bird’s nest, the mystery of a cicada’s molted husk—guarantees fruitful rereadings for readers of all ages.(Picture book/poetry/biography. 6-11)