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by Kimiko Kajikawa
Illustrated by Ed Young

Published by Philomel, 2009
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-399-25006-4

Ages 5-9

Ojiisan is watching from his home on the mountain as residents of his village celebrate the rice harvest. The old man stayed behind because he sensed something wasn’t right, and a rumbling beneath his feet provides the answer: earthquake. When Ojiisan looks to the sea he sees it’s “running away from the land!” Ojiisan watches 400 villagers far below rush toward the unusual sight unaware of what it means: tsunami! Frantic to warn them of the danger, he sets his crops on fire, knowing that when the villagers notice they will rush up the mountain to help extinguish the blaze. And they do. Their village is devoured by the waves, but 400 lives are saved. Kimiko Kajikawa’s story is based on a real man named Hamaguchi Goryou who saved his village when a tsunami hit Japan in 1896. In spare, dramatic account, the tension builds slowly and then explodes like the fury of the waves. Ed Young’s remarkable collage art is at once abstract—swaths of red orange and pink for the flames, chaotic tears of white for the violent sea—and detailed, with facial expressions reflecting the confusion and terror, and authentic period clothing. CCBC categories: Historical People, Places, and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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