Mar 11, 2012


Tsunami! (CAN, JP, USA, INT)

Written by: Kimiko Kajikawa

Illustrated by: Ed Young

Published by: Philomel

Published: May 2009

We all know what happened in Japan on this day last year. We all know the horror Mother Nature can wreak on humans. We are far from the devastation but there are still marks on our psyche from this tragic event.

I wanted to get a book that could start some controlled conversations with my kids about the events of 3/11. They still act out tsunami and talk about it when playing which is healthy for them, but I am a little afraid that there are kids around them who have lost a relative or who have moved here to escape devastation and that they could hurt by doing this.

I read parts of Meltdown! to them which helped process the nuclear disaster and to help them understand the discussions we are having on energy in Japan right now. The science behind the nuclear process is solid and that is a good book for that. However, I still wanted something suitable for their age range about the earthquake and or tsunami that isn't jarring. This is definitely that book.

In Tsunami!, Ojichan (Old Man) sacrifices his fields and therefore his riches to save his entire village from a tsunami that washes all the buildings and possessions away but does not succeed in taking the people. 

Caldecott winner Ed Young is known for his unique collages, and in this book these mixed media collages work on several fronts. The texture and paper gives a folk art feel that makes this feel like a folk tale. Which it is I think- I've seen variations in Japan as a play and in art as well as in a collection of Lafcadio Hearn stories. The collages also serve to lessen the impact of this event, which makes it appropriate for even kids at a young age. 

I think this is an extremely well-written picture book that can serve as a catalyst for talks about  sacrifice, disaster, and rebuilding. The author has a number of excellent lesson plans related to tsunamis on her website as well.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a powerful book. Interesting to see it was published in 2009. I just finished reading Candy Gourlay's Tall Story last night - a novel for older kids, about a Filipino family half in London and have in the Philippines. Their home village gets destroyed in an earthquake (I didn't know the story before I started reading the book). It was chance I finished it yesterday, but it felt "right" to be transported by the story and all its consequence on yesterday of all days.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it.

I love comments! They make my day.