A Japanese girl’s beloved cherry blossoms become a metaphor for the ephemerality of life when her grandmother passes away, her memory still abloom even across the sea in America.
Sakura, whose name means cherry blossom, loves to picnic with her obaachan under the cherry tree. Together they tell stories and eat bento lunches. But when Sakura moves from Japan to the United States, everything becomes unfamiliar—the house, the trees, the school, and the language, whose words “nipped and snapped on her tongue like the tang of pickled plums.” With the help of a new, white friend, Sakura slowly adjusts, until she loses her grandmother and is thrown into grief. When spring arrives and their city’s riverfront is covered in cherry blossoms, Sakura finds herself full of memories and love for her obaachan as she picnics with new friends under the cherry trees. Digital illustrations showcase interesting compositions and good design sensibilities, and Saburi has a unique way of rendering the world. However, the color palette is muddied. The heavy use of complementary colors leads to a muddiness in value and a less appealing environment. Nevertheless, there’s an earnestness that comes from the words and art as Sakura’s tale of intergenerational love shines through.
Writing in a series of tanka poems, Weston addresses the difficulty of moving to a new country and the loss of a loved one with warmth and compassion. (Picture book. 4-8)