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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Boy in the Garden, written by Allan Say. Houghton, Thomas Allen, 2010.

"They were watching me the whole time" he said, panting. "Papa thinks I'm foolish and Mr. Ozu thinks I'm silly...I was only pretending. I was thinking about the 'Grateful Crane' story that Mama read to me...the crane that the woodcutter saved from the trap."

A boy and a crane, a man and his studio...both places infused with light.

I read a most interesting piece on Allen Say, written by Jeff Baker of The Oregonian and published November 29, 2010. It was accompanied by this serene and telling photograph by Motoya Nakamura. I thought you might like to take a peek.

Before starting his story about Jiro, who visits Mr. Ozu with his Papa in celebration of the New Year, Allen Say writes 'The Story that Mama Read to Jiro...The Grateful Crane'.

His lovely, contemplative story follows from that premise. It is the windows that mean so much. Looking at this new book, I am reminded that Allen Say does such commendable work, always it seems focusing on memories or events from  life, looking through windows of time to bring his story to life for his readers.

While Jiro's father and his friend visit inside the house, Jiro goes outside to explore Mr. Ozu's beautiful garden. There he sees a graceful crane and is reminded of the story his mother shared. The older men see him from a window and laugh to think that Jiro believes the crane is real. Jiro is devastated by their teasing.

Jiro retreats further into the garden where he finds a small house that reminds him of the woodcutter's house from his Mama's story. He goes inside and finds solace in his beloved story...imagining a young woman who comes to give him food, and to weave in nearby room. Mr Ozu and his father find him there. They say they heard him yelling. As they leave the garden his father soothes him with the observation that the crane looks almost real. Jiro assures him that it is 'just a statue', while smiling a knowing smile.
Don't miss the final has much to say about Jiro and the power of story.

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