While Arty World Sticker Doodles was the top performer in Literati’s Club Sprout (age 3 – 5) in December, it was how well Chirri & Chirra, The Snowy Day by Kaya Doi did that caught our eye.
Published by Brooklyn-based Enchanted Lion Books, it’s a Japanese translation and rather avant-garde for a children’s book. But our members liked it a lot and it kept pace with more conventional American titles like This Book is Magic and I Am Yoga.
Dr. Mark West, an expert in children’s literature at the University of North Carolina, said the book, which focuses on two sisters who set off on an adventure in a winter wonderland, reminded him of the 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film My Neighbor Totoro, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, about the two young girls and their interactions with friendly ‘forest spirits’ in postwar Japan.
“We always think of Japan in terms of big, bustling cities like Tokyo, we often forget there’s a rural Japan.”
“My Neighbor Totoro is a wonderful anime movie with a beautiful storyline and artwork – much like Chirri and Chirra,” West said. “And while we always think of Japan in terms of big, bustling cities like Tokyo, we often forget there’s a rural Japan. And that’s where the two sisters in My Neighbor Totoro go in order to move into this house with their father. The film focuses on their interaction with nature and nature itself becomes this multi-sensory, beautiful inspiration for their fantasies. Chirri and Chirra – The Snowy Day has a similar visual feel.”
Studies have found that value judgements and attitudes developed in childhood are essential in developing a love and empathy for nature – and that love and respect for the natural world will reduce environmental problems in the future if children are taught about it.
Claudia Bedrick, of US publisher Enchanted Lion, said she came upon Chirri & Chirra about seven years ago at Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookseller in New York City. “I saw such spirited girls, along with the gorgeous animals and wonderful foods, I was smitten. I decided to publish the books here because of how they present and weave together the natural world with the world of imagination. It was that overlap or integration that won my heart, along with the sheer gorgeousness of the illustrations. And two adventurous, curious girls: what could be better?”