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.