March 12, 2011
That's okay. We're in the middle of a crazy book fair and I'm not seeing all of my classes this week anyhow. Maybe I'll read it to some of my older students and we can talk about what's been going on in Japan.
It's a truly magnificent book. From the cover it may look like every other non-fiction disaster book for kids but it's really a perfect little tale of a wealthy rice farmer who sets his crops ablaze to save the people of his village. He is on a mountainside tending the fields as the entire village is reveling in a celebration down on the beach. First there is a "spongy" earthquake but then only he sees the tsunami coming. To the horror of the grandson at his side, he begins furiously burning his valuable crops to lure the villagers up the mountain. The scheme works and the people are save by his act of human kindness as the village is scoured from the earth below.
The illustrations are done in a fantastic mixed-media collage style the makes it feel earthy and timeless at once. When you get to the two-page spread with the dark and ominous wave bearing down, I'm sure you'll agree that this is a powerful book that hits all the right notes.
It ends with a celebratory tone and a humanist message of people helping others.
Which reminds me: here's the place to help out Japan.