Three Illustrated Books by Akiko Miyakoshi

After reading the three books by Miyakoshi below, I now consider myself a fan of her work. I love her illustrations. They have a coziness to them that greatly appeals to me. I also like her stories. The ones here are charming, relatable, and fantastic. They do a great job depicting a child’s voice, and I had a wonderful time reading them, although I’m not a fan of the endings. They tend to fall a little short for me. Anyway, here are more details on what I read.


The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi (illus.), transl. from the Japanese by Kids Can Press

Genre

Children Fantasy

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2010

(Goodreads)


My thoughts

I began my introduction to Miyakoshi’s work by reading The Tea Party in the Woods, a charming story about a girl who befriends animals she met at a tea party in the woods.

Because it had snowed all night, Kikko’s father decides to visit grandma’s house, which is on the other side of the woods, to clear the walk for her. But he forgot the pie for grandma. Believing she can quickly catch up to her father, Kikko decides to follow his footsteps in the snow to take the pie to grandma. But on the way through the woods, Kikko arrives at a tea party with a bunch of animals in attendance.

I liked the story. The beginning was a little jarring to me because it gives the impression of continuing from a previous page or something, but I didn’t mind it much. To me, the story is a quiet one. The real world slowly melts into a fantasy one when Kikko realizes that the figure she had been following through the woods is not her father. Kikko expresses some surprise and alarm at this and at suddenly finding a bunch of anthropomorphized animals in the woods, but she quickly overcomes the shock. In this way, as well as the illustrations, the story reminded me of fairytales like Little Red Riding Hood and classic children’s fantasy like Alice in Wonderland.

Art style

I love Miyakoshi’s illustration style. I like how the figures are drawn, the variety of textures, and the details included. I also like how she composes certain scenes, like when the animals notice Kikko for the first time and when all party attendees gather around the table to eat.

The majority of the illustrations are done in charcoal and pencil, so the colors are limited to the shading provided by those tools. However, Miyakoshi also uses colored ink to include pops of color on a few characters. Kikko, for example, has blonde hair and a red hat and skirt. How she’s illustrated, especially when she’s walking through the woods, also reminds me of fairytales like Little Red Riding Hood and classic fantasy tales like Alice in Wonderland.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

It’s a good read. I recommend it if you want a picture book that has a fairytale quality to it.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

If you like this, you might like…

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais (illus.)

Children’s picture book; little red riding hood with a twist

The Only Child by Guojing (illus.)

Children’s picture book; kid gets lost on the way to grandma’s house and has a fantastical adventure with animals on the way


The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi (illus.), transl. from the Japanese by Kids Can Press

Genre

Children Contemporary

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2009

(Goodreads)


My thoughts

The second book I tried by Miyakoshi is The Storm, a relatable story about a boy whose plans to visit the beach seems to get waylaid by a storm.

It’s Friday and our unnamed narrator, a boy, is excited about his family’s plan to visit the beach the next day. But his teacher warns the students to go straight home after school because a storm is coming. At home, his parents prepare for the impending storm. The boy mopes and his mom tries to reassure him that they can go to the beach the following week instead, but that doesn’t help. As the storm draws closer, the boy gets scared, but his dreams helps him to ride out the storm to clearer weather.

I actually didn’t like this much my first time through because I thought it ended too abruptly, but now after rereading it, I like the story. I also find it relatable because many of us have been upset with the weather for messing up our plans at some point in our lives. (I’m in that situation at the moment.) I also like that Miyakoshi shows the boy imagining himself on a ship sailing through the storm to clearer weather as his way of managing his worry and fear. The hopeful note the story ends on is also a positive. It was abrupt to me at first because I wanted to know what comes next, but we can easily tell what that is.

Art style

As I mentioned in the review above, I love Miyakoshi’s illustrations. What jumped out to me in The Storm is the perspective she uses in a few scenes and how she balances light and dark. To me, some scenes seem to be depicted from a kid’s POV because we are looking up from a lower level, lower even than the protagonist. Such a lower perspective makes things seem bigger. The parents seem taller and the counters in the kitchen and even the pots the mother uses seem bigger. I just thought that was interesting. It was different for me. I liked it.

But my favorite scenes are when the protagonist imagines himself riding out the storm on a ship. I just like how those scenes are drawn. My favorite is when the ship is heading to clear skies and we see the light peeking out from the dark clouds. All the images are done in charcoal and pencil, I assume (unfortunately, the publishers didn’t include what the artist used in this book); however, there is a surprise pop of color on the last page.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

Another good read. I recommend it if you are looking for something contemporary, like a slice of life story.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass


The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi (illus.), transl. from the Japanese by Kids Can Press

Genre

Children Fantasy

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2015

(Goodreads)


My thoughts

Of these three, I enjoyed The Way Home in the Night the most. It’s a fantastic story about a young bunny going home to bed.

We meet the unnamed narrator on the road with their mom. The mother rabbit is carrying the sleepy bunny. As they head home, the bunny imagines what their neighbors are doing — a flickering light makes them imagine someone watching TV and the scent of pie makes them think someone is baking. After their father tucks them into bed, the bunny wonders what their neighbors are doing as the night winds down — are the guests at the party next door leaving, is the bookseller reading on the couch? Finally, the bunny falls asleep.

All the characters in this one are animals living in a city, and, like The Storm, I also find it relatable because most people have wondered at the lives of those they glimpse as they walk around a neighborhood. I know I have. Sometimes I make up stories too. I just like that it’s about the different ways people wind down and prepare for bed.

Art style

The illustrations are all done in pencil and charcoal with acrylic gouache used to insert color in a few scenes. I love how this one is laid out because each page focuses on a different neighbor that the bunny is wondering about, and they are depicted as the bunny sees them through the window, so it’s not a large scene but instead a snapshot through the window’s rectangle. Later, when the bunny imagines how the neighbors are preparing for the night, the scenes are depicted without a border since they are just imaginings. I really like that.

Overall: ★★★★☆

A good read as well and the one I enjoyed the most of the three Miyakoshi books I read.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

If you like this, you might like…

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena, illus. by Christian Robinson

It’s about a boy riding the subway and drawing what he imagines the lives of the people around him might be like.

9 thoughts on “Three Illustrated Books by Akiko Miyakoshi

  1. I love her style of artwork. Very soft, and it seems to fit with the way you describe the stories. These might make great gifts for a friend, so thanks for sharing them. 🙂

    Like

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