Thursday, January 15, 2009


Taro Yashima ~ The Viking Press, 1958

There are two sorts of children's book I like the most. Those that are slightly haunting/creepy and those that make the parent cry at the end. The later is what we have here. Written and illustrated by the wonderful Japanese-born Taro Yashima (do click on his little Wiki bio... a fascinating guy), the book is seemingly about a girl who receives an umbrella for her third birthday and then can hardly stand waiting for the day when the first rain will arrive. The tale is filled with the gentle lull of patience, and the language is just lovely. When I read the written words that describe the sound the rain makes on her umbrella (bon polo ponpolo ponpolo), my son makes the most mysterious face as if I am telling him a wonderous secret.

But that isn't really why I love this book. So the girl gets the umbrella and she waits and she waits and she waits until at last the rain comes and then she is so proud to use her umbrella and she cherishes it and she loves it and it is a cute story and then... we arrive at the end...

Momo is a big girl now,
and this is a story
she does not remember at all.
Does she remember or not,
it was not only the first day in her life
that she used her umbrella,
it was also the first day in her life
that she walked alone,
without holding either
her mother's or her father's hand.

OK, now I am crying again just writing the words. Anyone who can write something so powerful and lasting that 50 years later they still make a mother weep is OK in my book.

Also by:
Crow Boy


maria said...

I was just posting yesterday about how my daughter has started to demand to hold my "whole hand" instead of just a little finger... thanks for this bittersweet post. :)

Edi said...

Well I am finding that more and more of the books I read to the kids - bring tears to my eyes at the end! My ds asks me why do I keep getting those books and just yesterday I was reading one and the part to me wasn't even tearful and the boy said he was getting sad! (don't remember the book but it wasn't sad!). I think I like those books b/c in some cases they are written based (albeit loosely) on true stories or written in an autobiographical way even if they are not - so you kind of identify more with what is happening. It's not a cartoonish story with a dog and a clown - but people, families, just like our own.

The Spicers said...

What a beautiful book!
I collect vintage kids' books too-glad to have found your blog via Book By Its Cover.

KT said...

I adore this book - I had it as a child, and I'm pretty sure my Mum still has it somewhere. I remember finding it quite unusual, but I loved the pictures, and the sound the rain makes on the umbrella. Thanks for reminding me of it!

Burgin Streetman said...

i am so glad so many of you love this book. it is darling!

Anonymous said...

This was one of my very favorite books growing up and the sound of my father's voice saying bon polo has never left me. It's raining right now and the first thing I heard in my mind were those words in my father's voice. And yup, tears.

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