Patience, Miyuki

This is a beautifully illustrated book that uses watercolour and coloured pencils to create the gently surreal garden through which Miyuki travels on the first day of spring. It employs images of creatures and objects that shift in terms of scale, moving from being an appropriate size in relation to the main character to being gigantic. The images also make strong use of pattern in depicting landscape and the clothes of the human characters.

In the narrative, Miyuki hurries through the garden, thus missing most of this first day. The text, however, encourages her to explore the garden (and the reader the images,) via comments about patience made by the clouds, river, animals and her grandfather. Instead her focus is on a flower that has yet to open. She does her utmost to encourage it to do so by collecting water for it, trying the well in the garden first, before asking the clouds and finally meeting a boy who shares his water. Having finally tripped and lost what she has collected, the exhausted child, lulled by the river, falls asleep and is carried home. The next day, having learnt to be patient, she is rewarded by witnessing the flower opening.

Miyuki, then, misses the day because she does not take time to contemplate nature. This is a narrative about patience leading to reward and impatience to disaster. This makes it rather didactic and lecturing. It is gorgeous though.