cover image The Gift of the Willows

The Gift of the Willows

Helena Clare Pittman. Carolrhoda Books, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87614-354-4

Yukiyo is a contented potter who lives near the Okayama river, where the soft red earth embedded in its banks is his clay. He worries that the two willow saplings by the river will not survive, but each year they grow stronger. In the meantime, he has found a wife, Kura, and their life together is rich and full. When first drought and then flooding strike, the potter, his wife and their newborn child must leave their home, a feat that is only possible because one of the willows has fallen over the river like a bridge. Pittman's story is poetically revealed to readers in quiet, controlled passages next to glowing watercolor spreads; gilded, silky fabric patterns in the family's clothing establish the Japanese setting. In pictures and words, the book invokes timeless folkloric themes with grace. Ages 5-9. (July)