Thursday, September 16, 2010


Japanese Children’s Stories from Silver Bells is a 1952 collection of stories from Tomikazu Matsui’s Hiroshima-based children’s magazine Silver Bells, which was exported to the United States, and which featured stories from around the world. Most of the stories here are adapted from Japanese folktales; all are by Japanese authors and illustrators.

The book’s target audience is children between the ages of four and nine, and that seems about right. The stories are all short and simple, although there will be some words you’ll have to define for your kid (and maybe for yourself) – “wen,” for example.

All the stories are fully illustrated (most in full color), in a variety of media, including watercolors and oil pastels. The introduction declares these illustrations to be “noteworthy for their Japanese flavor, serving as an introduction to the remarkable knack the Japanese artist has always possessed in the realms of line, color and form” (p. 3). That may be overstating things a bit, but most of them are definitively Japanese in style, and they are a strength of this book.

Japanese Children’s Stories from Silver Bells is an endearing little book, with quality stories and illustrations.  


P.S. You can learn more about Tomikazu Matsui and the impressive work he did with Silver Bells here.