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About A Book

....( continued from the last post )

When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I used to spend many hours in the school library. There was one book in particular that I loved. It was a collection of stories titled 窶堙懌?堙壺?堙ォ窶堋オ窶堙姑短ニ蓄窶堙娯?ーテ (The Song Of The Cicada Of Illusion) by a fellow named Yasuo Maekawa and it was acompanied by very attractive illustrations by Koji Suzuki.

Initially, what caught my eye was its cover.
A boy is shown feeding his pet rabbit some grass. The illustration had a very distinctive look and I just fell in love with it.

As I started to read the stories, I was even more drawn to the book. It was nothing like I had read before.
While it was written for kids, the stories contained some heavy themes like Death, War and the darker side of human nature yet all done in a very whimsical tone. Of course, I didn't reaise all that back then, though.

I remember being very touched especially by the last story in the book that bears the same title as the book itself.

It was about a little boy who is hospitalised after fainting on his way to school with a very high fever.

During a series of feverish dreams, he encounters a cicada who talks to him. As you know, a cicada only lives for a couple of weeks once it emerges from the ground where it spends most of its life (up to 17 years!). The cicada in the boy's dream teaches him what it means to be alive.

It left such a strong impressin on me I took out the book many times and read it over and over.

I HAD TO have this book! One day, instead of checking out the book as I usually would, I just put it into my bag and took it home.

I am sorry Mom & Dad.... You had NOT raised me to be this way...:sorry:

I carefully peeled off the labels on the spine of the book and put stickers over the area where they had stamped the school seal inside the cover to hide any evidence that the book belonged to the school library.

The book stayed on my bookshelf for many years until I left home after graduating from highschool.

----------------------------------------

I went to see a film a couple of weeks ago to an art house cinema in the city of Takasaki in Gunma prefecture. There, I saw a poster for an upcoming film called 青「ナ?E窶堙??ェ窶敕披?敕シ窶堋オ窶堋「窶禿ゥ (The Most Beautiful Night In The World).

I instantly recognised the background illustration used for the poster. It was by Koji Suzuki who drew the pictures for that book! It turns out he is an artist who is still active today.

Once home, I asked my mother what happened to my books. As with my records, the books, too, had been thrown out during a move.

I tried looking for the book on the internet bookshops but I found out that it had been out of print for some time. I tried the auction sites. Nothing.

Then it occurred to me to try the city public library. I went to their website and did a search.... and there it was. I went down to the library last friday and took the book out. I got a little misty-eyed when I held it in my hands and saw the familiar illustration on the cover.

I read the book that night and found it even more brilliant this time around. There are so many things that I was just too young to appreciate when I was a kid that I do now that I am older.

On Saturday, I spent a whole hour at work scanning every single page of the book. Now I have the whole book stored on my computer.

Now I realise how terrible what I had done in grade school was. I had robbed many kids of the opportunities to meet this wonderful book.

I would love to somehow get a hold of this book one day and "return" it to the school library at my grade school where my niece is now a student.

001.jpg


Follow the link and check out more recent work
by Koji Suzuki.
http://www.zuking.com/index.html

Comments

Awww thats so adorable ^^; Who knew that a book would have such an imprint on you :) I remember feeling the exact same way about Roald Dahl books when I was little. I wasnt like the other kids...I used to sit in the library and read Charlie and the Chocolate factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Twits etc.

One day if my Japanese becomes good enough I would like to read it :).
 
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory was one of the first books I read in English. I used to read a lot but now.... it has been quite a while since I read a book. Last summer, I re-read Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. What a brilliant book. That has got to be in my all time top 10.
 

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Ashikaga
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