Christmas Around The World – Japan
Today we head to Japan:
Tree of Cranes by written and illustrated by Allen Say – (1991)
For ages 4-8
Set in Japan, a young boy and his mother dig up a small fir tree, decorate it with origami cranes and light candles as the mother recalls to her son her Christmas memories from her years in California.
I love the fact that both cultures are intertwined in this story. Throughout the story, the reader is balanced between the every day life on a cold winter’s day and a sense of anticipation that this is a very special day for the mother as she prepares a small Christmas celebration for her and her son.
This is my favorite section of the book:
“Mama let me strike the matches. And when all the candles were lit, she fell silent. She was remembering. She was seeing another tree in a faraway place where she had been small like me.
Mama held me in her lap. The cranes turned slowly, flashing candlelight. There couldn’t be a tree more beautiful than mine, I thought. Not even in the place where Mama was born.”
A great book for third culture kids, as they balance two or more cultures and remember Christmas’ in their passport country.
Allen Say’s bright and colorful watercolor paintings throughout gives the reader a window into the family life of a Japanese home and the warm portrait of a mother and son relationship.
The only aspect of the book that bothered me was the fact that there is no mention of the Nativity story or any explanation as to the reason Christmas is celebrated, but I do like the beauty and magic of the lighted Christmas tree.
If you love this book, be sure to look for Grandfather’s Journey also by Allen Say, a beautiful picture of what homesicknesses is for third culture kids – always longing for the country you are not currently residing in. Grandfather’s Journey is a Caldecott Medal winner.
The Tree of Crane is also available on youtube if youdon’t own a copy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgxMFUjm