The White Ravens Database

Presented by   Internationale Jugendbibliothek / International Youth Library

Japanese / Japan

Hibari ni

(To a skylark)

Uchida, Rintarō (text)
Ueda, Makoto (illus.)
Tōkyō: Arisukan, 2021. – [24] p.
ISBN 978-4-7520-0947-4

Japan  | History 2011  | Tsunami  | Sorrow  | Poetry  | Picture book

Reading age: 4+

White Ravens issue: 2021


The text of this impressive picture book was written a year after the earthquake and the tsunami in north-eastern Japan in 2011. When the author, Rintarō Uchida (b. 1941), was asked to write a poem to encourage survivor children, he thought he couldn’t because it would be arrogant. Instead, he might be able to write “that he cannot write.” The poem begins with “I have no words” and continues with “No words to give you. / I just sit with you, your head hanging. / No, I’ll be a dandelion, which blooms beside you. / No, dandelion fluff, which you blow off. / Like a postman to deliver your words. / As I fly away, I’ll tell a skylark that you looked up and blew me into the sky.” […] The illustrations feature an almost empty landscape with just a few buildings drawn in dark tones with a limited colour palette that recalls the disaster-stricken area at the seaside. A girl’s movement as well as the carefully nuanced design of plants at the bottom of each page beautifully capture her feelings. [RN]