Aug 13, 2020

Ojiichan’s Gift

Ojiichan’s Gift

Written and Illustrated by: Chieri Uegaki

Illustrated by: Genevieve Simms

Published by: Kids Can Press

Published on: April 2, 2019

Ages: 4+

Like many kids from immigrant and international families, including my own, Mayumi spends her summers in a different country from her own, with her beloved grandparent.

Mayumi and her grandfather have a special bond, forged over labour in his garden. They have weeded together, pruned together, and raked together, and produced a gorgeous garden where they relax and eat rice ball lunches. Until one day when things change, and Mayumi isn't going to be able to do this with her grandfather (Ojiichan) anymore.

This is an especially applicable story during the pandemic, when many children and even adults have a hard time with big changes, and not being able to do the things they loved anymore, and not being able to meet with loved ones overseas. Mayumi's frustration as she plops down in the middle of the garden with her hand on her face is something I would venture to say all of us have felt at least once this year. 

Genevieve Simms does and excellent job with the illustrations. I have been to many, many Japanese gardens and she really does their beauty justice. The rocks that symbolize a turtle and a mountain are really similar to those I have seen in Japanese gardens in Kyoto and Chiran, Kagoshima.

Mayumi finds a creative way to bring the garden and memories of time with her grandfather into her everyday life. Now it's a challenge for us to do that as well for all the activities and people we are missing. Uegaki's well-crafted story can help us do that.

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