If someone were to ask me who some of my favorite author-illustrators for very young children are—those who make books, that is, geared at preschool readers—I’d say that Komako Sakai is most assuredly one of the names at the top of that list.
This month, Gecko Press released the first American edition of Sakai’s Hannah’s Night, which was first published in Japan in 2012. It’s the story of a very young child, who wakes at night and, after failing to wake her sister, explores her home with her cat, Shiro. There’s mystery and wide-eyed wonder (the dark house at night) and mischief here (Hannah giggles as she takes her sister’s music box, notebook, and coloring pencils back to her own bed to play with), and the youngest of readers will thrill at Hannah’s free reign of the home, independent of any grown-ups telling her what or what not to do. There are moments of beauty, too, such as when Hannah hears cooing and heads to the window to see the “prettiest dove she’d ever seen,” something she’s not likely to see during the hustle and bustle of her day.
Sakai’s thick brushstrokes bring a vibrant texture to the story, and I’m enamored with the dark, navy blues of Hannah’s world at night. These are deep, rich shades, made all the more striking when the sun starts to come up — just as Hannah finally gets sleepy.
If her books are any indication, Sakai knows young children very well. Here’s some more art from the book. Enjoy …
When Hannah shook her, she didn’t budge.”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)
and ate some cherries without asking …
nobody told her off.”
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and she snuggled up on the edge of her sister’s bed …”
(Click to enlarge spread)
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HANNAH’S NIGHT. Copyright © 2012 by Komako Sakai. First published in the U.S. in 2014 by Gecko Press. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
1) I listened to this CD about five times this week right there at that NPR link. It’s really good, and I see a CD purchase in my future. Pretty soon it will no longer be playing there, but I think the link still works today.
2) Later this month, I’ll see those same musicians open for Shovels & Rope. It’s gonna be a good, warm, foot-stomping show in cold, cold February.
3) Speaking of foot-stomping, the Saintseneca song, the first one on this list, makes me happy.
4) My piano teacher is having me take a break from my regular instruction book to play random songs. As in, pop standards, I guess you’d call them. (A few weeks ago it was “Moon River,” for instance.) I find it’s very helpful with note recognition, something with which I still struggle. This week it’s “Rainbow Connection.” (You’re welcome for that mental image of serenading green frogs.)
5) This from Noah Gundersen:
I once saw him sing that live (with just one sibling), and it was pretty much five minutes of transcendent beauty.
What are YOUR kicks this week?