The Mailbox in the Forest

Kyoko Hara, trans. from the Japanese by Alexandrea Mallia, illus. by Kazue Takahashi. Museyon, $14.99 (74p) ISBN 978-1-940842-53-0
For quiet excitement, finding a secret message in the forest is hard to beat. When first grader Mayu, a city child staying with her grandparents, finds a small box between two tree trunks labeled “Mailbocks,” she leaves a note for the leaver, correcting the spelling. “Dear Mayu,” starts the reply she finds the next day, “Thank you for the letter. Im Konta. I dont write much so my spelling is not good.” Who is Konta? Author Hara gently draws out the suspense as Mayu, cued as Japanese, travels back and forth from the mailbox, finding out more with each missive—and eventually meeting the figure. The story unfolds in an atmosphere of safety and security as the child learns that a letter “holds happy memories,” and a serviceable translation by Mallia makes the action clear. Soft, unlined illustrations by Takahashi (Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear) alternate between inky b&w scenes and a palette of autumnal golds enhanced by splashes of teal and scarlet. The lengthy story allows luxurious development and mystery as Mayu and readers wait to meet the letters’ enigmatic author. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/16/2021
Release date: 10/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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