The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden: 12/31/19
The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden by Heather Smith and Rachel Wada is a picture book inspired by an NPR report. In 2010 in Japan, Itaru Saski built a phone booth with a disconnected phone. It was his way of addressing his grief. His phone booth drew hundreds of mourners, all who wanted to send a message on the wind.
Heather Smith took this story and recontextualized it against the 2011 tsunami. Makio had a routine where he would have to his father and watch him and the others go out to sea to fish. On the day of the tsunami he loses his father and his voice.
Makio's neighbor, Mr. Hirota, builds a phone booth. The survivors use it as mourners in the real world have. Makio listens every day to the messages others send on the phone. He though can't take such a quiet way to grieve, until he can find his voice by confronting the ocean.
Rachel Wada uses a mixture of traditional Japanese illustration styles: namely caligraphy and sumi-e. She also references known Japanese children's books. I'm personally reminded of the illustration style in Crow Boy by Taro Yashima (1955) and Owl Lake by Keizaburo Tejima (1987).