Are You An Echo? Discovering the beauty of Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko (ages 7-12)

Empathy — it’s a vital quality to develop for all of us. How do we reach outside of ourselves to imagine being in someone else’s shoes? Misuzu Kaneko’s beautiful poetry is a shining example of how poetry can help us stop for a moment and think about the world from a different point of view.

Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko
Poetry by Misuzu Kaneko
Narrative by David Jacobson
Translation and editorial contributions by Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi
Illustrations by Toshikado Hajiri
Chin Music Press, 2016
Amazon / Your local library
ages 7-12

This striking collaboration shares the story of how Misuzu Kaneko’s poetry came to be discovered long after her death; moreover, it brings her poems to an English-speaking audience for the first time. In 1966, a young Japanese poet discovered a poem that struck him with its empathy and simplicity, yet he could find no other poems by this author — who was she? Did she write other poems?

BIG CATCH
— by Misuzu Kaneko

At sunrise, glorious sunrise
it’s a big catch!
A big catch of sardines!

On the beach, it’s like a festival
but in the sea, they will hold funerals
for the tens of thousands dead.

Linger for a moment on this poem, and ask young readers to think about this poet’s message. Why would the fish hold funerals? How does this shift readers’ thinking?

Although Setsuo Yazaki began searching in 1966, it wasn’t until 1982 that the curious poet uncovered more of Misuzu’s poetry. Her brother still had her diaries, which contained the only copies of her poems that still remained. Finally, Setsuo began to discover more about Misuzu’s life.

Read more about this unique blend of history, poetry and biography see the full review at Great Kid Books.

Copyright ©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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One thought on “Are You An Echo? Discovering the beauty of Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko (ages 7-12)

  1. I discovered this book at the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian, and loved it. Now I carry a few copies in my micro-bookstore and people snap them up. A wonderful story, a visual treat, and inspiring poetry!

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