Sunday, February 16, 2014

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers was written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Yan Nascimbene.  It was published in 2008 by Sleeping Bear Press.

I chose to pick up Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers because I was looking for multicultural books that were about a culture other than the African American culture.  When I picked it up, I knew that I had to read it because it has haiku in it.  I didn't know anything else about the book yet, but I knew I would enjoy reading it due to the haiku because it reminds me of my uncle. My uncle is a runner.  A 20-25 miles a day type of runner. Throughout his daily journey, he stops, takes a picture of something he sees on his way and writes a haiku about it. It's usually something to do with nature and the beauty he comes across while running.  That is what I thought of when I picked this book up, so I knew I wanted to read it.

Yuki is also about a journey.  On the inside of the book jacket, it states, "In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Japanese provincial governors had to travel between the cities of Kyoto and Edo (modern day Tokyo).  This 300 mile journey on the historic Tokaido Road required the presence of anywhere from  one to three thousand attendants (carriers) setting the stage for a grand event."  This grand event is recorded through the reluctant traveler, Yuki.  She did not want to go on this voyage with her parents.  She was going to miss school and miss her friends, and she had never been outside of her city.  When she spoke to her teacher about the voyage, her teacher told her to write a haiku about her experience daily. 

The illustrations within the book are generally on the lower half of each page, encompassing the complete right side, but only a little less than half of the left side.  The text on each page is on the other part of the left side, always on a white background.  Yuki tells her story of each part of the journey, and then summarizes that part of her journey with a haiku.  For example, on the first day of her journey, she writes about what she has packed, her animal, getting into her box to travel to the new city, leaving her home, and her haiku states,

"Once outside the gate
how will I find my way back?
Will home disappear?"
Each of the photos depicts the journey she is describing.  There are many muted colors through the daytime, and dark shadows through the night.  There are pictures that show the travel through her eyes, within her box.  She describes one sigh as,
"Willows lean over
the river's edge like women
washing their long hair."
In the illustration, you see people in a lake washing their hair, surrounded by willow trees.
My favorite illustration is where a fox is following the carriers through the snow. It looks as though it is a blanket of white, and the illustrator used grays to make holes within the snow, which looks like trees to me. The picture jumps out at me, with so much stark white on the page.  You are drawn to the fox, trying to sneak his way through all of the snow.
As I said before, all of the illustrations are on the right of the page, which helps with the understanding that she is upset about this journey.  There are many long, diagonally cut roads, showing a long, hard journey, and many times where she is shown alone with her puppy, which could represent her loneliness throughout the journey.  She uses the haiku's to feel less lonely; to feel a connection to home and her teacher.
When Yuki gets to the new land, there is a gray and white illustration of her destination.  The city is huge, while Yuki and her father stand alone, very small, at the front of the illustration. They are ready to start this new journey.   Yuki writes,
"Everywhere I see
something to delight my eyes
I stop looking back."

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a beautiful book! I'll have to look for it. Greenwood's library isn't very diverse.