7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #702: Featuring Gaku Nakagawa

h1 August 2nd, 2020 by jules

“My message is very simple: Economic growth and progress must add to
human happiness, not take away from it.”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


Today, dear Imps, I have an unusual picture book import for you. The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out was originally published in Japan in 2014 and will be on American shelves in mid-August, thanks to Enchanted Lion Books. Translated by Andrew Wong, edited (in the original Japanese edition) by Yoshimi Kusaba, and illustrated by Gaku Nakagawa, it is a picture book adaptation of Uruguay President José Mujica’s 2012 speech to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, during which he asked: “Can we really talk about the solidarity of humankind and kindness to each other, or even togetherness, when we are constantly competing to outdo each other?”

“We came into the world to live in such a way as to find happiness on this planet,” Mujica says later in his impassioned speech. Questioning the world’s dangerous patterns of overconsumption, Mujica questioned humanity’s “monstrous desire” to “make things that do not last.” Humanity is in danger, he said at this infamous speech, and we must find a way to live differently.

The book includes a well-summarized introduction, explaining to readers what the Rio +20 summit in Brazil was and why everyone had gathered. “One after another,” the intro states, “they give speeches, but no one says anything new.” That is, until Mujica spoke. Wearing simple clothes, the man known as “the world’s poorest president”—known as such, because he had donated a great deal of his salary to poor citizens, he lived with his wife on a farm, and he drove a “trusty old car” (much of this depicted in two pages of comics-like panels beore the speech kicks off)—spoke so humbly and fervently about living simply and caring for one’s neighbors that the result was enthusiastic applause from those at the conference.

It’s a thought-provoking, powerful adaptation (and one well-suited to share with picture book readers of all ages) and will prompt children and teens to think about social justice, poverty, our consumer culture, power, and what it means to live a happy life. “Are we using our system well?” Mujica asks. “Or are we being run by it?” There is so much in his speech — and so much in this striking adapation; I highly recommend you find a copy of your own on library or bookstore shelves in mid-August. The sleek, vividly colored illustrations bring a great deal to the text. Fortunately, I have some spreads here today so that the art can do the talking.


“I am going to speak forcefully this evening and ask some hard questions.
This entire afternoon, we have talked about how to live in harmony with nature,
how to rid the world of poverty. But what has really been
going on inside our heads all this time?”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“We humans created civilization, and its progress has been simply amazing. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“How do we live our lives? Let’s take it simply. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

THE WORLD’S POOREST PRESIDENT SPEAKS OUT. First published in Japan in 2014 by Choubunsha Publishing Co., Ltd. Tokyo. Japanese-language edition copyright © 2014 by Yoshimi Kusaba, Gaku Nakagawa. First English language edition published in 2020 by Enchanted Lion Books. English-language translation copyright © 2020 by Enchanted Lion Books. English-language edition copyright © 2020 by Enchanted Lion Books. Illustrations reproduced by permission of Enhanted Lion Books, Brooklyn.

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.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) One of my best friends works at the zoo, and she took us to meet some caracal kittens up close. Pictured here is my youngest daughter, petting one. They were beautiful.

2) Obama’s words this week at John Lewis’s funeral. (Admittedly, I only heard some of it. The whole thing was too sad to watch.)

3) Speaking of the Obamas, I hear Michelle has a new podcast. I haven’t listened yet, but I will — and I’m just happy it’s out in the world.

4) Lewis’s words from beyond the grave.

5) Outdoor visits with friends, though I miss hugs.

6) I got the Spelling Bee pangram two days in a row this week! (It’s the little things.)

7) Finally having a plan for how school will look this Fall for my daughters. Fortunately, they will be able to learn from home.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #702: Featuring Gaku Nakagawa”

  1. What a great book to share and much needed in the world.
    Jules, baby caracal, how special! I agree about Lewis’ words. I will look into spelling bee.
    My kicks:
    1. We are with our 2 girls and 3 grands at Seaside, OR until Tuesday.
    2. Walking.
    3. Oldest grand: “When did grandparents become cooler than parents? ” (the world at almost 16)
    4. Poetry Swap.
    5. Peaceful protests.
    6. Hummingbirds.
    7. Beach Books bookstore in Seaside.
    Have a great week.

  2. Happy Sunday, Imps! Thank you, Gaku Nakagawa, for sharing your art, and thanks, Jules, for sharing those pages. Very powerful messages.

    Jules: AMAZING! If you ever get the opportunity again, please hug the caracals for me. Cats are the BEST. Kudos for celebrating the little things, and for acknowledging the power of words. I’m glad that your family is doing well and that you have a school plan.

    Jone: Yay! Enjoy your time with your family. Hello to the hummingbirds, and the books!

    My kicks for the week:
    1) Being assertive
    2) Speaking up
    3) Communicating
    4) Feeling
    5) Reexamining things
    6) Kind words
    7) Good food

  3. What a wonderful speech, and 6 years on still so relevant to our current world. Thank you for linking to the full speech! These illustrations are great, i especially love the one of everyone’s thoughts.

    Jules – Caracals!!! So lucky! How wonderful to have a friend who can give you and your girls such an awesome experience. How nice to have a fun kick in the middle of a week where we were all collectively sad over the loss of John Lewis (and of course all the other bad stuff too.)

    Jone – Enjoy the beach and your family! I have not made it to the coast yet this year, and miss it, so love knowing others are going and enjoying it. Yay for peaceful protests, hummingbirds and book stores.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Got a great result for a young client, always an extra meaningful kick.
    2) John Lewis’s final words for us – sobbed while reading them, but ultimately took heart because it was so good to read that he’d been moved and inspired by them, and that his final message for us all was one of hope for change for the future.
    3) The eulogies by Reverend James Lawson and Xernona Clayton Brady (who set up John Lewis with his future wife Lillian Miles.) They were wonderful and delivered that perfect mixture of sadness, joy and humor I love about southern funerals. They are also both inspiring for being so incredibly healthy and sharp at 91 and 89 years old, respectively. Goals, as the kids say.
    4) Portland protests.
    5) Lighter fare – watched The Battered Bastards of Baseball on Netflix, fun documentary about Kurt Russell’s dad Bing and the baseball team he founded and ran in the 1970’s (and Kurt played on), the Portland Mavericks. (Todd Field, director of In The Bedroom, was a bat boy!)
    6) Sunset walk around the reservoirs at Mount Tabor.
    7) Sunset walk with a friend along the Columbia River.
    7.5) Daisy joining me outside for morning coffee every day. (Even though she generally lays near me then falls back asleep, I appreciate her wanting to keep me company.)

    Have a wonderful week Imps!

  4. Little Willow I just missed you in cyberspace – love your kicks, especially Feeling, Communicating, Speaking Up and Reexamining things, although good food may be most favorite.
    Hi from me and Daisy!

  5. Jone, your trip sounds so lovely! Have fun. p.s. We imps always know you are a cool grandparent.

    Little Willow, I’m doing a you-go-girl-aw-snap snap for you for having asserted yourself and having spoken up.

    Rachel, I love that first kick, though all your kicks are especially kicky. That documentary sounds fun. I just remembered tonight is the last night of one I’m watching, the one about Michelle McNamara and her kickass detective work. … Hugs to Daisy, as always.

    Have a good week, you all!

  6. Hands down Pepe is one of the best humans on the planet! Cannot wait to see how the creators brought his speech to life for kids!

  7. I was not familiar with this speech Jules, so I will definitely be seeking a copy of this book. I love knowing that you and your daughters had a chance to go to the zoo and be with the baby caracals. I sobbed when I listened to some of the words spoken at John Lewis’s funeral. And his final words to us are the absolute truth.

    Jone: I too have been enjoying hummingbirds. I planted a garden outside my back sliding doors just for them, plus they enjoy the nearby feeder.
    Little Willow: I love the good food kick. I have been trying a lot of new recipes.

    Rachel: I love knowing about your walks and mornings with Daisy.

    My kicks:
    1. Flower gardens and their ever changing blooms
    2. My vegetable gardens, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, beans and herbs
    3. Baby bunnies
    4. Hummingbird moth sighting, my first
    5. Rain
    6. Cooler temperature, however temporary
    7. The many moods of Mulan

    Have a wonderful week everyone. I will try to get here each week. It’s such a boost to read your kicks.

  8. Margie, we have sooo many rabbits in our neighborhood this year. It’s the best. And I love to see hummingbirds. Your vegetable garden sounds fabulous. We failed at planting this year. Hugs to Mulan!

  9. Julie, you will probably really enjoy this book!

  10. […] Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Review of The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out edited by Yoshimi Kusaba (in the original Japanese), illustrated by Gaku Nakagawa, translated by Andrew Wong (Enchanted Lion) – a picture book adaptation of Uruguay President José Mujica’s 2012 speech to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development […]

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