A young girl carefully keeps a magical secret during World War II.
Before she left Japan to return home to England in 1913, Tatsuo Moriyama’s teacher entrusted him with care of the Little People, instructing him to give them a secret place to live and provide them with milk daily in their special blue crystal glass. Each generation of the Moriyama children has in turn taken on responsibility for filling the blue glass. Now it is Yuri’s chance to look after Balbo and Fern and their children, Robin and Iris. For years a bookshelf in the Moriyama house has been a hidden refuge, but radical changes are underway with the onset of World War II. Evacuated for safety to a remote rural area, Yuri does her best to care for the Little People, but as food becomes scarce, their situation takes a turn for the worst. Originally published in Japan in 1967, this is a powerful mix of fantasy and historical fiction depicting the impact of war on civilians—children in particular—and offering insights into the Japanese experience of the Second World War. Although filled with lovely imagery and charming descriptions, for example, of the Little People’s ingenuity with scavenged objects and their friendship with a helpful pigeon, there is ample drama and anguish as well.
A child’s goodness in difficult times animates this touching story for fans of The Borrowers and the Chronicles of Narnia. (Historical fantasy. 10-14)