“Perfect Picture Book” – Friday


Wabi Sabi

wabisabiAuthor:   Mark Reibstein

Illustrated by:  Ed Young

Published by:  Little, Brown and Co

Ages:   3 – 6 years

Theme:   simplicity, understanding, harmony, the mysterious, the journey

Opening Lines:   Wabi Sabi was a cat who lived in Kyoto, Japan.  One day, visitors from another country asked Wabi Sabi’s master what her name meant.  It had never occurred to her before that wabi sabi was anything more than her name.  Wabi Sabi watched as her master drew breath through her teeth, shook her head, and said: “That’s hard to explain.”

Synopsis:  From the inside flat –   Wabi Sabi, a little cat in Kyoto, Japan, has never thought about her name, until friends visiting from another land ask what it means.  The master says, “That is hard to explain.” And that is all she says.  The curious Wabi Sabi then sets out on an adventure to discover the true meaning of her name.  Using spare text and haiku, Mark Reibstein weaves an extraordinary story about finding real beauty in unexpected places.  Caldecott Medal-winning artist Ed Young complements the lyrical text with breathtaking collages.   Together, they illustrate the unique world view that is wabi sabi.

Why I like this:   This was an interesting book, opening in a top to bottom fashion  as opposed to left to right.  I loved the message this story brings in a subtle way.  Wabi Sabi goes on a journey to find out the meaning of her name, not realising all along there are gentle hints being given by each creature she asks along the way.  It is not till drinking tea with a wise monkey does Wabi Sabi realise it is the simple things that are beautiful.  In plain things there can be great beauty.  Like the cities sharp clear high-rise buildings, the dark and green of the forest can be just as majestic. As he instructs Wabi Sabi to sit, listen and feel  so do we begin to understand the simplicity.

I loved that in the front of the book we learn the meaning of Wabi Sabi…..  A way of seeing the world, that is at the heart of Japanese culture.  Finding beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest and mysterious.  The beautiful almost three-dimensional pictures are huge two page spreads.  They kind of pop on the page and you feel you could almost lift them out.

It seemed as though it was planned that I should post this book at such a time when I am going through such a stressful time with work and my Mum being so ill.  This is certainly a book on reflection of inner peace and beauty which in a way, brings calm.   I am looking forward to my two-week holiday overseas.  See you all soon.

Findings/Resources:     At the back of the book  is the history of Wabi Sabi and information on Haiku and Haibun.  (I thought of you Catherine when I read this book).   There are Japanese haiku appearing decorately throughout the book.    Also translations of the Haiku.  There is also a description from the illustrator of what was used for his illustrations.

More description of Wabi Sabi…   http://www.nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm

See this amazing story of how the original artwork  was lost. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca2Ly4Vpb5Y

A good exercise for children is to have them stay silent for a while and then after a short time ask them to write down what they heard, smelled, and felt. What they noticed around them that they may not have noticed before.  This would be great done outside in the school yard, for instance.

For more books with resources please head on over and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.    Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors

About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
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25 Responses to “Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

  1. Cathy Ballou Mealey says:

    One of my all time favorites Dianne – so lovely! Kids really understand wabi sabi after reading this book because it is conveyed in such a simple but potent manner.
    Wishing your Mum a speedy recovery.

  2. I don’t know this one, but it’s on my list now. I hope all goes well with your mother and that you find a way to enjoy your birthday, my dear! But you can save good wishes for later too!

    • You will enjoy it. The use of raw materials to make the illustrations is very interesting. A beautiful story. Thank you for your lovely wishes. I too hope Mum gets better…. these things happen when you get old…. *sigh.* Off to enjoy and evening out before our flight, so that’s good.

  3. What a lovely book! Even if it’s about a cat! I like your exercise of having the kids sit still and notice what’s around them. One of my favorite activities! Thanks for this book!

  4. Catherine Johnson says:

    That sounds wonderful, Diane!

  5. This sounds like a message for all ages, Diane. I love the idea that the orientation of the book pages almost forces a reader to look at the world in a different way. My thoughts are with you and your mom.

    • Thank you, Wendy. It is certainly interesting how it reminds us all, of seeing the peace and beauty that we might otherwise have missed. It makes us think, too! Thank you for your kind thoughts.

  6. What a lovely book, Diane. Thanks for sharing it. And I hope you have a restful two weeks!

  7. What an unusual book. I know I would love the story. I can imagine that kids like her search or journey. I’m eager to read this myself. I want to know the story as it’s message sound universal! Hope your mom is improving. Another holiday?

    • Yes it is an usual book in many ways and the message is certainly universal and for all ages. I think you will love this, Pat. Thanks for thinking of Mum. She is very weak, getting old does that, I guess! Yep another holiday, but mainly just seeing my nephews for a few days on the way up to Cairns for a family wedding we have been invited to. Will spend another 5 days there then home. A more relaxing holiday.

  8. Ahh. A fabulous favorite of mine. Thanks for introducing this book to a host of new readers. I like your looking/listening exercise, too.

    • wow! another one who already knows of this book. Glad you like it! Your welcome, and it will appeal to many with it’s timeless theme. Thank you, Joanne.

  9. This story sounds lovely, and the art sounds magical! I would love to read it. I hope things get better at work and that your Mum feels better soon, Diane! (((HUGS)))

    • It is lovely and has an appeal about it that is quite unique! Enjoy! Things will always get better in the end. This is just a time I need to take to recharge my batteries. Thank you for your kind words, Susanna. *hugs* back to you.
      (Can I ask a favour. I will set up a PPBF for next week but will not be able to link it to your linky bar on the day. Can you do it for me? I will send detail by email.)

  10. Joanna says:

    This sounds an awesome and would be a great match with WON TON.

  11. Darlene says:

    What a perfect book for you and so many others of all ages. I wish you a good holiday, as you so deserve it. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it. Blessings to you and your mom.

  12. This sounds like a cute book. I like the cover, and that it’s written in haiku! 😀

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