Issun Bôshi: The One-Inch Boy

Icinori, trans. from the French by Nicholas Grindell et al. Little Gestalten (Prestel, dist.), $19.95 (40p) ISBN 978-3-89955-718-3
“We’d like a little boy, any size at all,/ We’d like him little, we’d like him small,” sing a childless couple; their wish is fulfilled by the arrival of a son who’s one inch (issun) tall. Despite his size, Issun Bôshi brings his parents joy, then sets off in search of his fortune, armed only with a rice bowl for shelter and a needle for protection. In the big city, crowds throng over an arched bridge; only boys and dogs notice the tiny figure. “Give me this little person, I beg you, he can read to me, sing me songs, and keep me company,” a young noblewoman tells her father. When an ogre abducts the girl, Issun Bôshi defeats him with his needle. Breathtaking silkscreenlike spreads created by the design collaborative Icinori (designers Mayumi Otero and Raphael Urwiller) are the book’s big draw; the artists use vermilion, warm yellow, and blue for bold, stylized images that pay homage to visual images of postwar Japan. Readalouds are complicated by the tiny type—just the right size, perhaps, for a one-inch boy to read. Ages 3–8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/23/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 40 pages - 978-84-942081-4-0
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