All photos courtesy of Penguin Random House
There are some children’s books that inspire people of all ages with their profundity, and “Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms” is no exception.
The book touches on such universal themes as the immigrant experience, feeling out of place in a new setting and the love in intergenerational relationships. Its February release is just in time for the cherry blossom festivals, which happen from March to May in many cities across North America. Author Robert Paul Weston introduces readers to the tanka, a traditional Japanese poetry form just in time for poetry month in April.
The protagonist of the story is a young girl named Sakura who loves warm spring days and picnic lunches. Sakura also loves sitting underneath the cherry blossom trees with her grandmother in the spring. But now Sakura and her parents are moving to America, and her grandmother is staying back in Japan.
Told in a series of poems inspired by traditional Japanese verse, this story of one little girl’s immigration experience explores the loneliness of a new home, the healing power of friendship and the joy of finding the familiar in unexpected places.
“Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms” captures the beauty of the healing power of friendship through Weston’s Japanese poetry-inspired text and illustrator Misa Saburi’s breathtaking illustrations.
Weston was born in Dover, England, and raised in Canada. He has written several novels for young readers, including “Zorgamazoo”, “The Creature Department” and “Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff”. In his 20s, he lived in Japan, near the foot of Mount Yoshino, which is renowned for the beauty of its cherry blossoms, the inspiration for this story. He lives with his wife in London, England.
Saburi was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She makes illustrations using Photoshop, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn.
During the months of March and April, Saburi will appear at four Brooklyn bookstores for readings and activities with young readers. These include Community Bookstore, Powerhouse on 8th, and both Greenlight Bookstore locations. She hopes that the events will fall on warm, spring days so that attendees can enjoy real cherry blossoms outside afterwards.
Artwork from inside “Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms”, courtesy of Penguin Random House