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by Kimiko Kajikawa

illustrated by Ed Young


School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ K-Gr 3— Wealthy Ojiisan suffers a feeling of foreboding as he watches colorful rice festival celebrations from his cottage high above his village by the sea. In his mountaintop home, he feels a spongy earthquake and observes bizarre movements in the sea: tsunami! How can Ojiisan alert the townspeople? Young uses a panoply of papers to create collages that tell the story of a sacrifice that saved hundreds of lives. Patterned and marbled papers, fibrous grass cloth, translucent rice paper and tissue, photographic magazine papers, and even corrugated cardboard are keenly cut, roughly torn, layered, wrinkled, mounted, and manipulated to produce images that range from dead calm to the sea-spittled tumult of a roiling vortex that promises to consume everything in its path. The art reflects the frenzy of the events and is a departure from the more serene, controlled, and balanced work we know of Young. Kajikawa has based the character of Ojiisan on Japanese  hero Hamaguchi Gohei, who in 1854 set his own rice-stack harvest ablaze, diverting the attention of revelers and drawing them away from impending disaster. A simple story of the power of a simple act.—Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT –Angela J. Reynolds (Reviewed January 1, 2009) (School Library Journal, vol 55, issue 1, p76)


  • ALA Notable Children’s Books – Middle Readers Category: 2010
  • Parents’ Choice Awards – Picture Books: 2009


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Ages 0-8, Historical Fiction