Ojiichan's Gift by Chieri Uegaki & Genevieve Simms
by Chieri Uegaki & Genevieve Simms
Purchased from First Book for my school library
In Ojiichan's Gift, Uegaki and Simms have created a picture book that is as beautifully simple and deeply fulfilling as the garden that Mayumi's grandfather, Ojiichan, builds for her. Every summer, Mayumi flies halfway around the world to visit her grandfather in Japan where Ojiichan has created and carefully tends a garden just for her. As Mayumi grows, he teachers her the subtle beauty and delicate harmony that exist in nature. She learns that "moss on a rock was a gift of time, not to be washed away with a hose." Mayumi comes to love enjoying the results of her efforts in "happy silence" as she and Ojiichan sit at the edge of their garden, and she especially loves raking the gravel, making patterns, "rings, like ripples in a pond," and the sound of the tiny rocks chattering as they "passed through the rake's wooden teeth."
One summer, Mayumi must accept that Ojiichan can no longer tend to their garden. At first, she is filled with anger and wants to destroy the garden, but after her tears, she finds solace working in the garden, raking the rocks and recreating the peaceful design that Ojiichan made just for her. Before Mayumi says goodbye, she gives Ojiichan a garden of his own. Using a bento box, Mayumi recreates their garden. Mayumi carries several small bags holding treasures from their garden back home with her, where she makes a box garden for herself.
Ojiichan's Gift is carefully and simply composed, an unforgettable reminder of the connections we make - with each other and nature, and how they sustain us and keep us connected, even when we cannot be together.