Read Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko by Misuzu Kaneko David Jacobson Sally Ito Michiko Tsuboi Online


In early-1900s Japan, Misuzu Kaneko grows from precocious bookworm to instantly-beloved children’s poet. But her life ends prematurely, and Misuzu’s work is forgotten. Decades later her poems are rediscovered—just in time to touch a new generation devastated by the tsunami of 2011. This picture book features Misuzu’s life story plus a trove of her poetry in English and theIn early-1900s Japan, Misuzu Kaneko grows from precocious bookworm to instantly-beloved children’s poet. But her life ends prematurely, and Misuzu’s work is forgotten. Decades later her poems are rediscovered—just in time to touch a new generation devastated by the tsunami of 2011. This picture book features Misuzu’s life story plus a trove of her poetry in English and the original Japanese.Big Catch: At sunrise, glorious sunriseit’s a big catch!A big catch of sardines! On the beach, it’s like a festivalbut in the sea, they will hold funeralsfor the tens of thousands dead....

Title : Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781634059626
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 64 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko Reviews

  • Richard Derus
    2018-11-08 17:21

    Rating: 5* of fiveWhenever a package arrives from Chin Music Press, I know that everything else has to go to the Later pile. As always, I was *so* richly rewarded when I opened these covers.This gorgeous and extremely touching sampler of Kaneko Misuzu's poetry is perfectly illustrated. It is introduced by a brief recounting of Kaneko's unhappy life. While I would most definitely want my grandkids to read the poetry, I'd want to read Kaneko's story to them, and make sure I was fully present to gauge their need for explanation and/or comfort as the tale unfolds.Even if you have no kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or strange kids you can borrow, buy this beautiful object for your coffee table. You will be the coolest kid on the block.

  • Betsy
    2018-11-14 15:27

    Recently I was at a conference celebrating the creators of different kinds of children’s books. During one of the panel discussions an author of a picture book biography of Fannie Lou Hamer said that part of the mission of children’s book authors is to break down “the canonical boundaries of biography”. I knew what she meant. A cursory glance at any school library or public library’s children’s room will show that most biographies go to pretty familiar names. It's easy to forget how much we need biographies of interesting, obscure people who have done great things. Fortunately, at this conference, I had an ace up my sleeve. I knew perfectly well that one such book has just been published here in the States and it’s a game changer. Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko isn’t your typical dry as dust retelling of a life. It crackles with energy, mystery, tragedy, and, ultimately, redemption. This book doesn’t just break down the boundaries of biography. It breaks down the boundaries placed on children’s poetry, art, and translation too. Smarter and more beautiful than it has any right to be, this book challenges a variety of different biography/poetry conventions. The fact that it’s fun to read as well is just gravy.Part biography, part poetry collection, and part history, Are You an Echo? introduces readers to the life and work of celebrated Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko. One day a man by the name of Setsuo Yazaki stumbled upon a poem called “Big Catch”. The poet’s seemingly effortless ability to empathize with the plight of fish inspired him to look into her other works. The problem? The only known book of her poems out there was caught in the conflagration following the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II. Still, Setsuo was determined and after sixteen years he located the poet’s younger brother who had her diaries, containing 512 of Misuzu’s poems. From this, Setsuo was able to piece together her life. Born in 1902, Misuzu Kaneko grew up in Senzaki in western Japan. She stayed in school at her mother’s insistence and worked in her mother’s bookstore. For fun she submitted some of her poems to a monthly magazine and shockingly every magazine she submitted them to accepted them. Yet all was not well for Misuzu. She had married poorly, contracted a disease from her unfaithful husband that caused her pain, and he had forced her to stop writing as well. Worst of all, when she threatened to leave he told her that their daughter’s custody would fall to him. Unable to see a way out of her problem, she ended her life at twenty-six, leaving her child in the care of her mother. Years passed, and the tsunami of 2011 took place. Misuzu’s poem “Are You an Echo?” was aired alongside public service announcements and it touched millions of people. Suddenly, Misuzu was the most famous children’s poet of Japan, giving people hope when they needed it. She will never be forgotten again. The book is spotted with ten poems throughout Misuzu’s story, and fifteen additional poems at the end. There’s been a lot of talk in the children’s literature sphere about the role of picture book biographies. More specifically, what’s their purpose? Are they there simply to inform and delight or do they need to actually attempt to encapsulate the great moments in a person’s life, warts and all? If a picture book bio only selects a single moment out of someone’s life as a kind of example, can you still call it a biography? If you make up dialogue and imagine what might have happened in one scene or another, do those fictional elements keep it from the “Biography” section of your library or bookstore, or is there a place out there for fictionalized bios? These questions are new ones, just as the very existence of picture book biographies, in as great a quantity as we’re seeing them, is also new. One of the takeaways I’ve gotten from these conversations is that it is possible to tackle difficult subjects in a picture book bio, but it must be done naturally and for a good reason. So a story like Gary Golio’s Spirit Seeker can discuss John Coltrane’s drug abuse, as long as it serves the story and the character’s growth. On the flip side, Javaka Steptoe’s Radiant Child, a biography of Basquiat, makes the choice of discussing the artist’s mother’s fight with depression and mental illness, but eschews any mention of his own suicide. Are You An Echo? is an interesting book to mention alongside these two other biographies because the story is partly about Misuzu Kaneko’s life, partly about how she was discovered as a poet, and partly a highlight of her poetry. But what author David Jacobson has opted to do here is tell the full story of her life. As such, this is one of the rare picture book bios I’ve seen to talk about suicide, and probably the only book of its kind I’ve ever seen to make even a passing reference to STDs. Both issues informed Kaneko’s life, depression, feelings of helplessness, and they contribute to her story. The STD is presented obliquely so that parents can choose or not choose to explain it to kids if they like. The suicide is less avoidable, so it’s told in a matter-of-fact manner that I really appreciated. Euphemisms, for the most part, are avoided. The text reads, “She was weak from illness and determined not to let her husband take their child. So she decided to end her life. She was only twenty-six years old.” That’s bleak but it tells you what you need to know and is honest to its subject. But let’s just back up a second and acknowledge that this isn’t actually a picture book biography in the strictest sense of the term. Truthfully, this book is rife, RIFE, with poetry. As it turns out, it was the editorial decision to couple moments in Misuzu’s life with pertinent poems that gave the book its original feel. I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to come up with a picture book biography of a poet that has done anything similar. I know one must exist out there, but I was hard pressed to think of it. Maybe it’s done so rarely because the publishers are afraid of where the book might end up. Do you catalog this book as poetry or as biography? Heck, you could catalog it in the Japanese history section and still be right on in your assessment. It’s possible that a book that melds so many genres together could only have been published in the 21st century, when the influx of graphic inspired children’s literature has promulgated. Whatever the case, reading this book you’re struck with the strong conviction that the book is as good as it is precisely because of this melding of genres. To give up this aspect of the book would be to weaken it.Right off the bat I was impressed by the choice of poems. The first one you encounter is called “Big Catch” and it tells about a village that has caught a great number of fish. The poem ends by saying, “On the beach, it’s like a festival / but in the sea they will hold funerals / for the tens of thousands dead.” The researcher Setsuo Yazaki was impressed by the poet’s empathy for the fish, and that empathy is repeated again and again in her poems. “Big Catch” is actually one of her bleaker works. Generally speaking, the poems look at the world through childlike eyes. “Wonder” contemplates small mysteries, in “Beautiful Town” the subject realizes that a memory isn’t from life but from a picture in a borrowed book, and “Snow Pile” contemplates how the snow on the bottom, the snow on the top, and the snow in the middle of a pile must feel when they’re all pressed together. The temptation would be to call Kaneko the Japanese Emily Dickenson, owing to the nature of the discovery of her poems posthumously, but that’s unfair to both Kaneko and Dickenson. Kenko’s poems are remarkable not just because of their original empathy, but also because they are singularly childlike. A kid would get a kick out of reading these poems. That’s no mean feat.Mind you, we’re dealing with a translation here. And considering how beautifully these poems read, you might want a note from the translators talking about their process. You can imagine, then, how thrilled I was to find a half-page’s worth of a “Translators’ Note” explaining aspects of the work here that never would have occurred to me in a million years. The most interesting problem came down to culture. As Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi write, “In Japanese, girls have a particular way of speaking that is affectionate and endearing . . . However, English is limited in its capacity to convey Misuzu’s subtle feminine sensibility and the elegant nuances of her classical allusions. We therefore had to skillfully work our way through both languages, often producing several versions of a poem by discussing them on Skype and through extensive emails – Michiko from Japan, Sally from Canada – to arrive at the best possible translations in English.” It makes a reader really sit back and admire the sheer levels of dedication and hard work that go into a book of this sort. If you read this book and find that the poems strike you as singularly interesting and unique, you may now have to credit these dedicated translators as greatly as you do the original subject herself. We owe them a lot.In the back of the book there is a note from the translators and a note from David Jacobson who wrote the text of the book that didn’t include the poetry. What’s conspicuously missing here is a note from the illustrator. That’s a real pity too since biographical information about artist Toshikado Hajiri is missing. Turns out, Toshikado is originally from Kyoto and now lives in Anan, Tokushima. Just a cursory glance at his art shows a mild manga influence. You can see it in the eyes of the characters and the ways in which Toshikado chooses to draw emotions. That said, this artist is capable of also conveying great and powerful moments of beauty in nature. The sunrise behind a beloved island, the crush of chaos following the tsunami, and a peach/coral/red sunset, with a grandmother and granddaughter silhouetted against its beauty. What Toshikado does here is match Misuzu’s poetry, note for note. The joyous moments she found in the world are conveyed visually, matching, if never exceeding or distracting from, her prowess. The end result is more moving than you might expect, particularly when he includes little human moments like Misuzu reading to her daughter on her lap or bathing her one last time.Here is what I hope happens. I hope that someday soon, the name “Misuzu Kaneko” will become better known in the United States. I hope that we’ll start seeing collections of her poems here, illustrated by some of our top picture book artists. I hope that the fame that came to Kaneko after the 2011 tsunami will take place in America, without the aid of a national disaster. And I hope that every child that reads, or is read, one of her poems feels that little sense of empathy she conveyed so effortlessly in her life. I hope all of this, and I hope that people find this book. In many ways, this book is an example of what children’s poetry should strive to be. It tells the truth, but not the truth of adults attempting to impart wisdom upon their offspring. This is the truth that the children find on their own, but often do not bother to convey to the adults in their lives. Considering how much of this book concerns itself with being truthful about Misuzu’s own life and struggles, this conceit matches its subject matter to a tee. Beautiful, mesmerizing, necessary reading for one and all.For ages 5 and up.

  • Jon(athan) Nakapalau
    2018-11-16 18:12

    I was happy to come across the beautiful poems of Misuzu Kaneko...thought I knew a little about Japanese culture, but I had never heard of her poetry. Although this book is for children adults will also enjoy these heartfelt poems.

  • Jaksen
    2018-11-10 18:39

    Lovely book, and that's not a word I usually use for any book. A quick read, though you'll want to take your time. The poetry, and brief biography. of Misuzu Kaneko, who lived from 1903 to 1929. From a small coastal town, daughter of a bookseller, and well-educated (for the time), she went on to write about 512 poems. Many were published in her lifetime and she became well-known and beloved in Japan. However, her short life was rather tragic.The poems themselves are elegant, small pieces of life, observation and reflection, very often with deep and poignant themes. She's rather like Emily Dickinson in that manner, though Kaneko has her own style and flavor. I read this little book - which I had to wait two weeks to get through my library system - in less than an hour, but I'll read it again, savor it one (or two more times) before returning it.Wonderful.

  • cọng rơm
    2018-11-16 19:20

    "waves are forgetfulleaving pretty, pretty shellsbehind on the sand"không dịch được buồn ghêhãy vừa coi tranh vừa đọc thơ hai kâu bằng tiếng anh vào một đêm mưa, dưới ánh đèn trắng và quạt mái vù vù, chợt như nghe tiếng sóng đập lên mái tôn nhà mìnhvậy là lại thấy mình đang nằm giữa đại dương mênh mông diệu vợi của thời thơ ấu, lại biết buồn nỗi buồn trong trẻo của hai mươi năm trước, rồi nhớ ra mình sẽ hết buồn, và biết mình sẽ lại buồn một ngày nào đó mai sau, rồi cứ vậy, nỗi buồn cũng trở nên êm đềm nhẹ bẫng như tơhehe, cảm ơn hh :D"con sóng mau quên bỏ lại vỏ sòtrên cát"tắm xong nghĩ ra cách dịch (bậy) chán fèoủa hình như ko phải haikiu =))) mà cũng đâu ai quan tăm =))

  • Bookishrealm
    2018-11-17 22:14

    Oh wow! So I picked this one out for #diverseathon and I must say it was quite amazing and such a sad tale. And the artwork! Oh boy it was BEAUTIFUL! If you've never heard of Misuzu Kaneko before you definitely need to check her out. The only thing that I could possibly say about this book is that you have to discover the beauty of it on your own! : )

  • Ngxr_
    2018-10-19 18:23

    Favorite poems:"Cocoon and grave"A silkworm enters its cocoon-that tight, uncomfortable cocoon.But the silkworm must be happy;it will become a butterflyand fly away.A person enters a grave-that dark, lonely grave.But the good personwill grow wings, become an angeland fly away."Starts and Dandelions"Deep in the blue sky,like pebbles at the bottom of the sea,like the starts unseen in daylightuntil night comes.You can't see them, but they are there.Unseen things are still there.The withered, seedless dandelionshidden in the cracks of the roof tilewait silently for spring,their strong roots unseen.You can't see them, but they are there.Unseen things are still there."Waves"Waves are childrenlaughing and holding hands,Together, they come.Waves are eraserswiping away wordswritten on the sand.Waves are soldiersadvancing from the open sea,firing their guns.Waves are forgetfulleaving pretty, pretty shellsbehind on the sand."Dewdrop"Let's not tell anyone.In the corner of the garden this morning,a flower shed a tear.If word of this spreadsto the ears of the bee,it'll feel it's done wrongand go back to return the nectar.

  • Jenna
    2018-11-15 21:12

    In continuation of my ongoing series of Goodreads reviews of top-quality children's picture books pertaining to whales, I devoured this gorgeously illustrated picture book telling the life story of the early 20th-century Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko and presenting a selection of her poems, very simple gentle-hearted little lyrics on natural subjects that showcase her endearing ability to empathize with everything from orphaned whale calves and unshelled cicadas to snow and telephone poles (!). In her gift for identifying with even inanimate objects, Kaneko reminds me a bit of Rilke, who was said to take half-used soap bars home with him from hotel rooms because he didn't want them to be lonely. The text of Are You an Echo? is a bit on the dense side (i.e., a relatively high word count per page), but the stunningly beautiful, richly colored illustrations by Toshikado Hajiri make up for it. Of note, though being apparently marketed toward children, this book deals with adult subjects in a surprisingly frank way, stating the important facts of Kaneko's life plainly: that she had a "bad, unfaithful husband" who forbade her to write poetry, that she sickened from "a disease contracted from her husband" (obviously a venereal disease, although the book doesn't elaborate), and that, when unfair laws threatened to give her husband sole custody of their daughter, she "ended her life" (this is the exact wording the book uses). I don't think there was any way around mentioning these facts while staying true to the story of Kaneko's life, but a parent or teacher should be aware in order to make an informed decision about what age group(s) to share this title with.Brain Pickings, which seldom fails to report on the best-quality children's books out there, featured Are You an Echo? recently, and you can check out their post to see a sampling of pictures and poems from inside:

  • Rosemary
    2018-10-31 18:29

    Never mind if you're not interested in children's books, spend some time with Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko. It consists of a light rendering of Misuzu's short and tragic life, suitable for kids, interspersed with poems. The poems are written from viewpoints like those of snow and fish. They show great curiosity about, and empathy for, nature and people. They are children's poems, but there is often more to think about. STARS AND DANDELIONSDeep in the blue skylike pebbles at the bottom of the sealie the stars unseen in daylightuntil night comes.You can't see them, but they are there.Unseen things are still there. The withered, seedless dandelionshidden in the cracks of the roof tilewait silently for springtheir strong roots unseen.You can't see them, but they are there.Unseen things are still there. There are 15 poems, including the one above, presented bi-lingually in the back of the book, with furigana next to the Kanji for easy reading. The translations are very good and the added pleasure of being able to read the original Japanese is wonderful. The voice of the poet as child comes through in her simple sweet way, the phrases so endearing and poignant in Japanese. The book, which is in landscape format, has nice illustrations by Toshikado Hajiri, a foreword by Setsuo Yazaki (the man who tracked down Misuzu Kaneko's poems after they had been lost for many years), a note from author David Jacobson, and translators' notes from Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi. To get all the details of Misuzu Kaneko's life, google her. Everything doesn't belong in a children's book.

  • ErikOlson
    2018-11-11 20:22

    I found this piece by searching the 2017 NOTABLE POETRY BOOKS Selected by the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry Committee. Are You and Echo? Is the collections of a forgotten poet from Japan. The Sample poem as follows offers perspective: Big Catch:At sunrise, glorious sunriseit’s a big catch!A big catch of sardines! On the beach, it’s like a festivalbut in the sea, they will hold funeralsfor the tens of thousands dead.Here we see the perspective of both the people and the sardines. And that what is remarable about these poems. They offer a way for stuents to connect to points of view they may not have considered. Great for Junior high or high school, it would be great for students to examine and respond to the different perspectives offered and to create their own poems.

  • Amber Hetchler (アンバーちゃん)
    2018-10-31 20:32

    Such beautiful poetry. I want more!

  • Mariam
    2018-10-20 22:13

    Much-needed kindness and empathy.

  • Beverly
    2018-11-14 20:16

    I was moved by her tragic story and her lovely poems.

  • Jamie
    2018-10-19 18:29

    Very interesting story of this Japanese poet whose life was cut short by a cruel husband. Her poetry is short and concise, but does pack a punch, despite much of it seeming innocent or sweet. The illustrations are beautiful!

  • Martha Gordon
    2018-11-09 17:37

    Sad biography, sweet poems. I loved hearing how the poem Are You an Echo was so inspirational to people in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and that it was a call to survivors to help others in the aftermath of tragedy.

  • Gayatri
    2018-11-10 18:12

    beautiful poetry that paints everything mundane in a new philosophical illumination.

  • Linda
    2018-11-08 19:31

    Misuzu Kaneko was a sensitive, curious child who felt very deeply, even imagining how fish or snowflakes or orphaned whale calves felt. "Are You an Echo?" begins with a short narrative explaining how most of Misuzu’s poems (which are not haiku) came to be discovered, then segues into the simply told story of her short life, with poems interspersed, followed by a section devoted to just her poems. The poems are meant for children, but they are thoughtful delights for all ages. I appreciated the narrative, learning about Misuzu’s life and seeing the deeper meanings in the poems. Misuzu’s last years were difficult and tragic, and while her troubles are told gently and without detail, they are serious enough (including “she decides to end her own life”) that the likely audience for the book would be children in grades 4-6, although parents could read aloud and further soften the wording for younger or more sensitive kids. There is one mention of a God and another of becoming an angel, if that would be an issue. Otherwise, this is a lovely true story for children about a soft-hearted girl whose thoughts became precious poems. The end notes provide interesting insight into the difficulties of translating Japanese, adding to all the reasons to put this in school libraries.

  • Suzanne
    2018-11-18 22:38

    This is a wonderful introduction to one of Japan's most beloved poets with appeal for both children and adults. The first part of the book introduces Misuzu Kaneko's short, tragic, but nonetheless productive life in winsome prose interspersed with verse in translation. A snippet: "Misuzu was a thoughtful child, and she had many questions: What does it feel like to be snow? What good is dirt? Where do stars go in the daytime?"This is followed by a selection of Misuzu's poems in both English and Japanese, all beautifully illustrated by Japanese artist Toshikado Hajiri.Publisher Chin Music Press has long had a reputation for quality, and this book is no exception. Even the endpapers are richly textured. This is a very special book about a poet whose timeless verses continue to resonate, and who deserves to be widely known, always remembered.

  • Niki Marion
    2018-11-01 19:24

    Really fascinating mini-bio of and collection of works by Misuzu Kaneko, a well-known and celebrated Japanese children's poet. CW: passing mention of STDs (which is pretty impressive) and direct mention of suicide, so know what you're getting into when recommending the book or reading it with much younger kiddos. Book would likely be best for ages 7+I really liked most of the images by Toshikado Hajiri, but some of them really fell flat to me. When you view strokes of genius perspective rendering on one page and a much less concentrated compositional effort on another, it's hard to ignore the inconsistencies.

  • Rebecca
    2018-10-20 16:14

    "To Misuzu, everything was alive and had its own feelings -- plants, rocks, even telephone poles!" This is a lovely combination biography/poetry book introducing the work and life of children's poet Misuzu Kaneko, well-known in Japan but only recently translated into English. The author decided to present her life story in a straightforward way, including her unfaithful husband, illness, and suicide.

  • Molly Dettmann
    2018-11-05 21:21

    Misuzu's story is so sad, but also fascinating. The illustrations, and especially the use of color, convey this story so beautifully. The first half of the book tells her life story and the second half features some of her works. Her poetry ranges from simple, sweet, and child-like, to haunting and bittersweet. The poem section features the English translation and the original Japanese characters and was my favorite part.

  • Zoe
    2018-10-31 22:20

    Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is one of those very special books which disguises depth, breadth and richness in its short pages. It is bold and tender, thoughtful and thought-provoking, handsome and restorative. It’s also full of innocent curiosity, delightful laughter and quiet but genuine kid-appeal.Combining an illustrated biography of the Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko, with a short collection of her poetry, alongside an introduction to aspects of traditional Japanese culture as well as recent historical information about the country, Are You an Echo? is wide-reaching and brimming with eye-opening information alongside poems to make adults and children alike smile, marvel and think again.The first half of this gloriously illustrated and attentively produced book tells the story of a poet, and how she became a household name in Japan 80 years after her death. Whilst many of us may not have previously heard of Misuzu Kaneko, her poem ‘Are You an Echo?’ was broadcast on Japanese TV to replace adverts following the 2011 Tsunami, and it captured a moment and mood across the country in a deep and lasting way. Her poetry is now part of the primary school curriculum throughout Japan.In the first half of Are You an Echo? Misuzu’s poetry illuminates moments in her own life in the narrative by Jacobson. The second half of the book, however, is a mini anthology of free-standing poems, both in translation and in the original Japanese (how wonderful to have this bilingual text!), each enriched by a full page colour illustration.And – Oh! – the poems! They are just so lovely! They capture a child’s wondering view on the world with an innocence and directness which really speaks to the heart (surely a sign of an excellent translation?). Children all start off asking “Why? How come? What for?” and Misuzu’s poetry captures that left-field, hungry curiosity with a delicacy and clarity that makes your eyes light up. I fear I sound very “adult” describing the poems this way, but the sense of delight (and recognition) was just as strong for my children when we shared this book together.Many of Misuzu’s poems take their readers out their own world view, to see things from a different perspective. They are highly imaginative and full of empathy and kindness, and sharing them would be such a simple, and enjoyable way of nurturing these traits in young readers and listeners.So… we have a moving, inspiring story, along with charming, life-affirming poems and now we come to the illustrations; they are packed with cultural and historical details that are intriguing and – to quote my 11 year old – “JUST AMAZING!”, enticingly drawing in readers from another time and culture into Misuzu’s own life.Hajiri’s illustrations work equally well alongside the free standing poems in the anthology section, where they appear as visual distillations of Misuzu’s beautiful poems, as well as when they are being used to convey more of the narrative structure of Misuzu’s biography and the story of how her poems were rediscovered after her death. Visual threads subtly link successive pages (do follow the story of the fish, from being caught at sea, to eaten at home), and watch how the seasons change echoing time passing as Misuzu grows up.So this book manages to achieve something very special on every single level. A fascinating story, finely told, with glorious poetry, thoughtfully and powerfully translated, and beguiling illustrations… so please: Slip this slim book into your bag, or onto the shelf by your child’s bed, knowing at any time it has the power to open up your family’s world and make it richer, wider and more compassionate.

  • Lynn
    2018-10-31 22:27

    Part detective story, part biography, part poetry collection and ALL exquisitely done. This story is a roller-coaster of emotions. Misuzu Kaneko and her work were unknown to me and it is a joy to meet both through this beautiful book. When a young Japanese poet chanced on one of Kaneko's poems, he began a search for more and found little until finally in 1982, he was able to locate Misuzu's younger brother. Astonishingly, he had Kaneko's diaries which held the only copies of 502 of her poems. And what a treasure! Her poetry is lively and charming, revealing a curious, exuberant and noticing girl who delighted in the world and possed a great talent for sharing what she saw in delightful poems. Throughout the biography section of the book, perfectly chosen poems provide a wonderful sense of Kaneko's nature. Tragically, Kaneko's short adult life was grim and horrifying. Sensitively handled for young readers, Kaneko's experience with her abusive husband, the sexually transmitted disease he gave her and the threat of having her child taken from her, led to Kaneko's death by suicide at 26. It is heartening to learn the moving story of the re-discovery of her work.The second half of the book is a beautifully done sampling of her poetry, in both the Japanese and the translated English. The illustrations throughout this extraordinary book are beautifully done and truly seem to reflect Kaneko's spirit.Additional information is provided by the author and the translators in the back matter.

  • Stacy
    2018-11-06 15:21

    I first heard about this book through Maria Popova's blog, Brain Pickings. She sums up this short little book pretty well - this is about a kind soul's work nearly lost to the world, but because we haven't lost it, we've been able to draw comfort from her gentle exhortations and observations. A small selection from Kaneko's treasure trove of (over 500!) poems is included as well, translated into English.For a children's book, the publisher makes a bold choice to mention suicide (yes, the author was driven to do it by forces that were out of her control at that time). I'm not sure how much a child could understand that, but at least it wasn't sugar coated. For the adults reading this, it puts into perspective a person who could write so sensitively about anything, even snow; no doubt, Kaneko probably also felt - acutely - all of the ugly things that happened to her, interspersed with the good.Interestingly, this book is presented in English on one side of the page, and Japanese on the other (with helping characters next to kanji, so that Japanese children could read these poems, I presume). This makes the book all the more valuable to early students of Japanese, I think - literature is an excellent way of learning more than just a language, but a culture.My favorite poem in this book was "Stars and Dandelions". It felt almost like a Walt Whitman poem, with that cheeky narrator who reminds the audience that they may notice less than they think.

  • Allie
    2018-10-27 18:23

    Read Harder task #23: Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.I liked the idea of reading some Japanese poetry for this task, because I work with a few Japanese guys for a subsidiary of a Japanese company that, last October, sent me over to Japan for a few days for a company meeting. That's essentially my entire background with the Japanese culture, other than a childhood love for the Sailor Moon TV show and an ongoing love for that stuff we call sushi (which my coworkers refuse to eat).I found out Are You an Echo? was at my public library. It is a beautifully illustrated children's book with poetry by a Japanese children's writer who died sometime around 1930, as best as I can tell. The first half of the book is a biography of the poet, Misuzu Kaneko, interspersed with her poetry, and the second half is a collection of her poems side-by-side in English and Japanese. I thought this was really neat to see, and I enjoyed the biography a lot (though I'm not sure how kid-friendly it actually is ... girl had some rough stuff happen in her short life). Overall the poems were very sweet. I can see why her work is so popular in Japan, as even in English it would probably be a good introduction to poetry for kids.

  • Susan
    2018-10-30 23:36

    Are You an Echo? is a treasure. The beautifully illustrated cover and the textured and heavy-stocked pages, make a strong presentation of Japan’s beloved children’s poet. The book includes Misuzu’s brief biography and presents 25 poems. Fifteen poems are presented in English and Japanese on beautifully illustrated two-page spreads.Misuzu’s poems give voice to cocoons, fish and snow. Written with such innocence, they are the words of a four-year-old. Of course, they are translated from Japanese, but they have a unique flavor different from children’s poetry in America.Unlike most girls of the early 1900’s who stopped going to school after the sixth grade, Misuzu went to school until she was seventeen. She was raised in her mother’s bookstore and she had a hard time telling the difference between real life and what she read. Everything was alive and had its own feelings. Always a thoughtful child, she was sensitive to everything around her and questioned everything. Unfortunately, extreme hardships entered into Misuzu’s life and she took her life at the age of 25. This fact is included gently in the brief biography.A delight to the imagination, this is a book to savor, study, and enjoy again and again.Originally published on

  • Arhely
    2018-10-21 19:18

    The poems were written by Misuzu Kaneko. The narrative by David Jacobson and Illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri. Translations by Sally Ito and Michiko TsuboiMisuzu Kaneko wrote many children’s poems. Her real name was Teru, but when she submitted her poems to the magazines, she used the name Misuzu. She had an unhappy marriage that ended up on her suicide. “She was only twenty-six years old.” After that her poems were into darkness until her brother Setsuo Yazaki published her poems. In March 11, 2011, Japan experienced a terrible tsunami. Her poem “Are You An Echo?” reached many people’s hearts and lives. The book contains many of her poems written in English and Japanese. The book contains beautiful illustrations giving a description of Misuzu’s life and poems. Each page contains rich colors and specific details and shades. This book is recommended for children ages 9-14 years-old. Teachers can use it as a read out loud during the poetry curriculum. Sources: Children and Youth Literature Class and

  • Heidi-Marie
    2018-11-08 22:14

    Reading for 2017 Beehive Poetry long list. Wow. I'm all kinds of thoughts on this. As my own reader, I found the story of Misuzu tragic and sad--so much promise, and yet such sorrow and pain at the end of it. I don't agree with suicide, and I was intrigued that the authors/translators made note that they worried about that. They still insisted on putting it in. Her story intrigues me, but I wonder and worry how it will connect with our children. Especially as we live in a state with one of the highest suicide rates. But even I, the terrible judge of poetry, found some of her poems beautiful in their English translations. I am not sure what to think of this as a children's nominee. A reader can certainly gain much. But they need to be mature enough to handle it. Just a collection of her poems would have been an amazing thing to introduce to the kids. But the biography part.... It is good for her story to be known and shared as it was almost lost. But for kids? Hmmm.

  • KimBear
    2018-11-16 22:29

    "In early-1900s Japan, Misuzu Kaneko grows from precocious bookworm to instantly-beloved children’s poet. But her life ends prematurely, and Misuzu’s work is forgotten. Decades later her poems are rediscovered—just in time to touch a new generation devastated by the tsunami of 2011. This picture book features Misuzu’s life story plus a trove of her poetry in English and the original Japanese."Big Catch:At sunrise, glorious sunriseit’s a big catch!A big catch of sardines! On the beach, it’s like a festivalbut in the sea, they will hold funeralsfor the tens of thousands dead.This is a wonderful book! The story of Misuzu is rather sad, but when you get into the poetry part of her book you are immediately taken in by her incredible use of words and the way she able to put actual feelings into words. Oh, and I love the end papers they used. A quality book through and through.

  • Briana Hilton
    2018-11-03 16:25

    Misuzu Kaneko was a poet in Japan, whose life came to a short end. Over the course of time, her poems were lost, however, her poems have now seen the light of day and are able to touch the lives of a whole new audience. The poems presented in this book are Kaneko's original works and are presented in English, as well as, traditional Japanese.APA Citation: Kaneko, Misuzu; Hajiri, Toshikado ;Jacobson, David ; Ito, Sally ;Tsuboi, Michiko . (2016). Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko. Chin Music Press