Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms

Robert Paul Weston, illus. by Misa Saburi. Tundra, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-101-91874-6
“Seeing these blossoms in bloom/ is always finest with friends,” Sakura’s grandmother Obaachan tells her as they picnic underneath flowering cherry trees. Sakura loves her grandmother and misses her when her family moves from Japan to the United States. With lyrical prose—and sentences written, an afterword explains, in the Japanese poetic form of tanka—Weston (The Creature Department) chronicles the trials of adapting to another culture. Sakura gets used to new words (“They nipped and snapped on her tongue/ like the tang of pickled plums”) and finds a friend her age named Luke. Then Obaachan falls ill, and Sakura must return to Japan to say goodbye. She mourns, but the following spring brings her a reminder of Obaachan in her new city. With their sturdy outlines, Saburi’s images look like traditional woodblock prints; her sweet, doll-headed figures and toylike landscape help take the sting out of the story’s sadder moments. Weston combines a look at Japanese customs, a meditation on loss, and observations on adjusting to a new country in this wistful, low-key tale. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/27/2017
Release date: 02/20/2018
Genre: Children's
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