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“All beautiful things encourage a child’s sense of wonder–and everything that encourages a child’s sense of wonder is beautiful.” –Mitsumasa Anno

The work of Mitsumasa Anno has been beloved since the 1970s when his first books appearedImage result for Anno's Journey in the United States.  His first US title was Topsy Turvies (1970) and in 1978 the book that acquainted me with his work appeared.  That was Anno’s Journey–a truly inspired and for me, enchanted wordless journey through Europe.  The genius of Mr. Anno’s work is in the delightfully detailed watercolors that lead the reader from pastoral scenes to village and finally to city scenes. Life is presented within the simplicity of quotidian routine–farmers tending their fields, shepherds guarding their flocks, a merchant selling wares, or a child playing hoops.Then suddenly, suddenly, out pops a scene from an Impressionist masterpiece, or a character from a novel, or a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays. Traveling with Anno through Anno’s Journey is a delight to any that love art, architecture, literature, geography, culture or children’s books! For instance, hidden within his inviting scenes one will come upon Van Gogh’s Langlois Bridge or George Seurat’s  A Sunday on La Grande Gatte or his Bathers at Asniers.  Less artistically inclined “readers” will find delight in Anno’s hilarious depiction of the silly king from The Emperor’s New Clothes, or the unsuspecting Little  Red Riding Hood innocently picking flowers while the wily fox watches from the woods.   Then there is Pinocchio, running through the streets!  Even young children will experience the thrill of discovery when they notice the four whimsical characters–the donkey, the dog, the cat and the cock from the well-loved Tale of the Bremen Town Musicians or see the iconic red balloon wafting up off the page from the Oscar-winning French film short of the same name.  There is something for everyone here, even the youngest child will love just pouring over the pictures with their intense colors, humor, and variety.

Over two years ago, I contacted the Japanese publisher of Mr. Anno’s work, in order to ascertain if they would be willing to have our

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The enchanted Guilan from Anno’s China

company, Beautiful Feet Books, republish Anno’s Spain, which had been out of print for some time.  In the process of that journey, I also found that Mr. Anno had done a Journey book on China, which had never been published in the US before.  Not only that, I also discovered that for each of Mr. Anno’s Journey books (there are now 8) he had written wonderful back matter to accompany each scene. These have never been translated and published in the English language editions, which is a shame, as Mr. Anno’s voice is as endearing and warm-hearted as his art. So for the editions that Beautiful Feet Books is bringing out, we are thrilled to be including these wonderful notes. After that we will begin work on Anno’s Japan and Anno’s Denmark.

annos-china-iphoneJust a few weeks ago we took delivery (like proud parents with a new baby!) on Anno’s China–the first time this beautiful book has ever appeared in America. Just like his other books, “readers” will accompany Anno as he travels through China, exploring life in this vast and majestic land where birds fish for men, where dragons and lions dance, and where thousands of clay soldiers and calvary guard the tomb of China’s first emperor.  Anno’s China received a Kirkus starred review which you can read about here.

I am currently working on bringing Anno’s Spain back into print as well.  I am finishing up editing the translation from the Japanese to English and expect to go to print early Spring. I will continue to post more about Mr. Anno’s work as we continue on this wonderful Journey with him!

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Dear Readers,
Lon_po_poAs installment 3 of our Around the World with Caldecott and Newbery, today we visit China!  For the purposes of brevity and conciseness, I’ve entitled this book tour through children’s award-winning literature as Around the World with Caldecott and Newbery, but I also include other notable awards such as the British Carnegie Medal, the Kate Greenway medal etc.  Occasionally I will throw in a book that just happens to be a personal favorite, and though it may not have won a particular honor, has won credibility by virtue of its timelessness and appeal to children.

For the youngest reader, Lon Po Po:  A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young, won the Caldecott Medal in 1990 and turns the tale of the sweet but gullible Red Riding Hood on its head.  In this Chinese version, the wolf is outwitted by three discriminating and resourceful children!  Ed Young grew up in China and studied art here in the US.  He brings a richness and drama to this tale through his use of ancient Chinese artistic techniques combined with watercolors and pastels.  Also by Ed Young, Ye259382-Mh, Shen: A Cinderella Story from China won the Horn Book Honor in 1983.

The well-loved children’s book author, Jean Fritz, writes the story of her childhood in China in Homesick, My Own Story–winner of the Newbery Honor in 1983.  Born in China, Jean’s childhood is rich with vivid memories of her Chinese amahs–her nursemaids, family picnics on the Great Wall, being spat at and called a “foreign devil”, glorious summer vacations on the beach at Peitaiho, and the unrest of impending revolution.  Fritz’s memoir draws these stories into a beautiful mix woven with the longing of a young girl for her American “home”–a home she’s never seen.  Margot Tomes enhances the text with her delightfully whimsical line drawings.

The House of Sixty Fathers has to be one of my all-time favorite children’s books!  First of all, I love Meindert DeJong for his tender depictions of his childhood protagonists.  DeJong seems to remember poignantly how he thought as a child, and incorporates that sensibility into his characters.  Young Tien Pao has escaped Japanese invading forces on  his family’s sampan with his mother, father, three ducklings, the family pig, and his baby sister, Beauty-of-the-Republic.  DeJong uses beautiful alliteration to establish the setting.

9780060214814_xlgRain raised the river.  Rain beat down on the sampan where it lay in a long row of sampans tied to the riverbank. Rain drummed down on the mats that were shaped in the form of an arched roof over the middle of the sampan. It clattered hard on the four long oars lying on the top of the roof of mats.  The rain found the bullethole in the roof of the mats.”

DeJong was stationed in China as a US Army sergeant during WWII, and the book is based upon his friendship with a young Chinese boy at the time. What follows is the tender, yet gripping story of a young boy, separated from his family during  war, and of his relentless and courageous pursuit of them through hostile enemy territory.  His remarkable adventures will bring a tear to your eye.  Maurice Sendak’s tender illustrations enhance the text.  The author won the Newbery Honor for this book in 1957.Young+Fu

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman won the Newbery Medal in 1933 and concerns thirteen-year-old Fu, who comes from the country to Chungking with his widowed mother, where the bustling city offers adventure and his apprenticeship to a coppersmith.  Set in the turbulent era of the 1920s, the author has drawn an authentic depiction based upon her own experiences as a missionary to China.

The Kite Rider by Geral9780066238753_p0_v1_s260x420dine McCaughrean won a Horn Book Fanfare award (2003) a American Library Association award as well as 2 British awards, for its intricately plotted tale of a 13th century Chinese boy who becomes a kite-rider.   Kite-riding was believed to predict the fortune or demise of a sea voyage and boys and men were sent up on large kites for this purpose.  After Haoyou’s father is killed kite-riding,  the boy takes up the profession in order to support his mother.  His world is beset by the treachery of the man responsible for his father’s death, and his wicked uncle who forces his mother to labor relentlessly to pay his gambling debts.  His adventures take him all over the empire, and even to the tents of the great Kublai Khan.

This is just a taste of the books that will be covered in my upcoming Back-to-School Literature Soirée, which you can register for here.  Hope to see you there!

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