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Shirobamba by Yasushi Inoue
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Shirobamba

by Yasushi Inoue

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431397,571 (4.07)16

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This was a very quiet, beautiful, and gentle book about Kosaku, a young boy raised in the early twentieth century in Yugashima, Japan, by his Granny Onui. She was not his natural grandmother but the adoptive mother of Nanae, Kosaku's natural mother. Boy and grandmother lived in the storehouse rather than in the main building because Granny Onui had been the mistress, not the wife of Great Grandfather Tat. All of this was explained in great detail in the book, and I wrote it all down so as not to get confused by the family relationships. I've never before read a book about a young child in which that child was the total focus of the book and also treated with so much insight and dignity.

As the story proceeded and I no longer had to focus so strictly on who was related to whom, I began to really enjoy this novel. It's deep into a child's life and thoughts. We meet Kosaku's his family, friends, teacher, and even his school principal. We experience many of the events of his life, such as watching horse-speeding, participating in athletic events, traveling to relatives out of town, and spying on a found boy who had been "hidden my by the gods". Many of these events were autobiographical of the author's life.

Perhaps my favorite chapter of this book was the one in which Kosaku and Granny Onui went to Toyohashi to visit the boy's parents and his younger sister. Kosaku enjoyed the visit to the city but was eager to return to his usual country life. He became the center of an argument of who should raise him and was not without his own misadventure before heading back to Yugashima.

This book might not be for an individual who is heavy into plot development, but it is quite a treat for anyone who wants to looks at life from an individual's perspective and has an appreciation for young children. ( )
1 vote SqueakyChu | Apr 22, 2017 |
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When twilight fell back then, that is to say about the fourth or fifth year of the Taisho era, which makes it more than forty years ago - the village children shouted 'Shirobamba! Shirobamba!' as they ran to sand from the street, chasing tiny pale creatures that floated like bits of cotton in the darkening air.
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