CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 36. . . .May 20, 2016
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.
Review by Gregory Bryan and Kylie Wiebe-Pantel.
“If we can’t go tomorrow, we’ll go next week,” my mother says.
“I don’t want to go next week. I want to go tomorrow.”
In Japanese storyteller Akiko Miyakoshi’s new book The Storm, a young boy’s parents have promised a day at the beach. Much to the boy’s dismay, however, on the eve of the beach day a huge storm is approaching. “Be sure to go straight home after class. There’s a bad storm coming,” the teacher warns. Despite reassurances that, if their beach day is rained out, there will be plenty of other opportunities, the boy goes to bed scared and disappointed. His slumber is filled with dreams of a conquering ship with big propellers that blow the storm away. He hopes his dream world fantasy will enable him to enjoy his desperately awaited beach outing.
Miyakoshi’s sparse written text is augmented by her heavily textured monochromatic artwork. The artist even uses the end pages to encapsulate the changing mood of the protagonist, contrasting the way that he feels at the story’s beginning and end. The phenomenally detailed charcoal illustrations add depth to an otherwise simple story. The storm scene is superbly depicted featuring heavy rainfall, gusting winds, and billowing clouds. The darkened street is alive with movement. Miyakoshi’s technique involves heavy contrasts and the use of value as a tool through which she reflects a sombre mood. The varied viewpoints of the illustrations also add visual interest to the book as does the almost complete absence of colour. In the cover image, the boy is depicted with a blue striped shirt but, other than that, it is not until story’s end that any further colour appears.
Despite how highly we rate the artwork, we believe that in some instances the depicted scenes are inexplicably light. That is to say, there appears to be too much bright sunlight streaming in through the windows. Miyakoshi may have done better if she had depicted gradually darkening skies. Instead, in the absence of the written text, it would seem as if the storm just suddenly appeared from nowhere. Whilst this may indeed be possible, the written text reveals the weather is forecast and expected. Similarly, when the storm eventually passes, the drawing of the boy’s bedroom could have been darker because his blinds were drawn.
The Storm is simple but attractive. It depicts the impatience and imagination of a young boy. An everyday experience is given significance by Miyakoshi’s skillful storytelling and expansive creativity.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He specialises in literature for children.
Kylie Wiebe-Pantel is an Early Years teacher candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.
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