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Myra here.

I meant to share these two picture books for our previous bimonthly theme From Asia with Love – A Feast of Asian Literature. I learned about Komako Sakai through Naomi Kojima’s Keynote during the recently-concluded Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore. However, as I read through the stories, I thought it still fit our current theme as it talks about ‘big emotions’ such as anger and quiet disappointment.

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IMG_7423Mad at Mommy

Story and Illustrations by: Komako Sakai
Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me. 

I love how this beautiful picture book is able to effectively capture a child’s momentary burst of emotion that can be so huge and overwhelming and so simple in its retelling and explanations. While adults would often label such a negative emotion as inappropriate or unseemly, Sakai tackled this affective state with great sensitivity, compassion, and simplicity of sentiment that resonates with genuineness and truth.

I was particularly taken by little rabbit’s stammering yet heartfelt “Mommy, I – I – I AM SO MAD AT YOU.”

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I love how the explanations for little rabbit’s anger is so straightforward, reminding me of the neat blacks-and-whites and absolute, clearly defined lines of morality or sense of justice that children often unerringly possess.

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Little Bunny provides a comprehensive list of things that Mummy does wrong such as yelling for no reason, not letting him watch cartoons, forgetting to wash his socks, to name a few. What to do with such a Mum? Run away, of course! Just how far our Little Bunny goes and how his anger was appeased (or whether it was appeased at all), I shall leave for you to discover. Children would no doubt empathize with this little rabbit with the huge emotions. Sakai’s artwork also conveys the range of emotions that our protagonist feels through the muted colours, and the artist’s playing around with boundaries and perspective. This is a lovely find.

The Snow DayIMG_7430

Story and Illustrations By: Komako Sakai 
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

The book opens with news that most young children who attend school seem to be looking forward to:

When I woke up in the morning, Mommy said, “You can sleep late today.”

“How come?” I asked, and she said, “Kindergarten’s closed.”

It has been snowing all evening and everyone’s stuck at home. This bit of information was met with great excitement by our little bunny who was so excited to make snow dumplings and snow angels. While this book does not technically deal with big issues such as anger or loss, the narrative and the haunting artwork communicate that sense of isolation and peculiar aloneness that winter can oftentimes bring.

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Mommy went out to the balcony. It was cold but quiet. No cars drove by. No one walked around. There was just the falling snow.

“Mommy, we are all alone in the world.”

I believe Sakai’s gift is his ability to capture the fleeting state of a child’s emotions and how as big as the world they seem to be at that precise moment. Kids are truly able to hold forever in their hands.

To know more about Komako Sakai, click here to be taken to the Arthur A. Levine page of the author/illustrator. Jules from Seven Imp also has a beautiful interview with Komako Sakai here.

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The Snow Day – Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2009
New York Public Library’s One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2009
New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books, 2009
Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2009
BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 2009
Smithsonian Notable Book of 2009
Booklist Editors’ Choices for 2009

Mad at Mommy – A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2010
Parents’ Choice Approved Seal

AWB Reading Challenge:   (35)

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  146, 147 of 150

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “Of Mums and Rabbits in Komako Sakai’s “Mad at Mommy” and “The Snow Day”

  1. Hi Myra, thought you might be interested in my post – Elephants, E-books and Enticing Reluctant Readers. Best wishes, Tish.

    Like

  2. Pingback: [Hot for Cybils] A Whirlwind of Grudges and Sleet of Snow in “The Grudge Keeper” and “Blizzard” | Gathering Books

  3. Pingback: [Monday Reading] CYBILS 2015 Finalists and Fiction PictureBook Winner – Gathering Books

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