Monday 7 February 2022

We Children and The Narrow Road to the Deep North

We Children and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Libby Hathorn, illustrated by Sadami Konchi (Interactive Publications) HB RRP $27.00 ISBN: 9781922332684

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

In seventeenth-century Japan, three children excitedly await a visitor to their village: the great poet Matsuo Bashō. He has walked a long way, so he can ‘look and look and look’ at the world. When he arrives, he promises to give the children presents the next day. But the gifts begin that night, when he entertains the villagers with stories and haikus about his journey. The next morning, before he leaves the village, Bashō makes good on his promise. He gives each child a drawing and a small brush so they can add their own touches to the paper.

Libby Hathorn’s gentle tale is aimed at children aged eight to twelve years who are beginning to learn about history, geography and poetry. Based on the real life of Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694), the story immerses the reader in the exquisite beauty of nature and the seasons that forms the focus of Bashō’s famous haikus. Libby draws on a wealth of imagery to bring the poems to life, ensuring that her words – like Bashō’s – ‘will last forever’.

The pages are awash with heavenly hues thanks to Sadami Konchi’s wonderful watercolour illustrations. Jewel-like greens and blues glorify the landscape, while touches of red, orange and yellow add joyous warmth to the pages. The fluidity of the watercolour medium creates eye-catching movement across the spreads, propelling the reader forward on a visual pilgrimage that reflects Bashō’s northern walk. 

A sweet and sensitive ode to poetry, mindfulness and respect for nature, We Children and The Narrow Road to the Deep North offers new insights with every reading. It will inspire pre-teens to observe the world around them and to take time to enjoy their own passage through it.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and well deserved review of a picture book that is for all ages


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