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Notes from a Children's Librarian

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Sakura

Perfect picks for the season of blossoms!

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


Book Cover I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree

I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree, by Jean E. Pendziwol, with illustrator Nathalie Dion, shows the cherry tree blossoms on the final page of this poem about winter. It begins with a little girl playing with the shadows as sunlight streams in the windows until they disappear. She knows the sun always comes back. The girl walks in the snow listening to stories in the wind, which sometimes howl like wolves, but she knows how to tame them. And even though the snowflakes can sometimes sting “…the cherry tree knows this: it is hope in the autumn that brings flowers in spring.” A lovely rumination on faith…especially in the face of things beyond our control. (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


Book Cover Sakura's Cherry Blossoms

In Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms, by Robert Paul Weston, illustrated by Misa Saburi, the protagonist is named after the cherry blooms. This is a story about the relationship between a girl and her Obachan. It’s written in the form of a Tanka, a poem of five lines and 31 syllables. Sakura is close with her Obachan in Japan but she must move with her family to America, where everything is strange, especially the big school and the language. Her friendship with the boy next door who owns a telescope, allows her to appreciate that things can have a lasting effect, long after they seem to disappear—like her Obachan who falls ill in Japan, and like the cherry blossoms that need to be enjoyed for such a short time.  (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


Book Cover Suki's Kimono

In Suki’s Kimono, by Chieri Uegaki, the cherry blossoms appear next to maple leafs on the kerchief Suki’s Obachan bought for her in Japan, where they danced together at a street festival in their kimonos. Back home in Canada, on the first day of Grade One, Suki decides to wear her kimono against her sisters’ advisement, and is made fun of at school. Her teacher asks her to share and she ends up performing a dance, with the cherry blossom handkerchief tucked inside her obi belt, giving her courage. By reenacting the dance with Obachan, Suki wins her classmates’ admiration. (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


Book Cover the Sakura Tree

The Sakura Tree, by Carolyn McTighe, illustrated with paintings by Karen Brownlee, is the story of three sisters whose poor father sends them from Japan to Canada to be married and have a better life. They each bring a memento. One has a silk kimono to be wed in. Another brings her red violin to play the Cherry Blossom song with. The third holds three cherry blossom seeds. The sisters become separated in Canada after leaving their ship and remember each other with sadness, until the seeds the third sister plants travel on the wind and reunite them. This is a sweet tale of hardship—being torn from family—which many new Canadians may relate to. (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.