Out and about this weekend, I came upon the most charming children’s book, Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, with stunning art by Ed Young.
Here comes a book that describes wabi sabi, a complex Japanese concept — and the focus of The Design Tree’s inaugural series – to children!
The story about a cat named Wabi Sabi who goes on a quest to understand the meaning of her name. Her adventure is one of self-discovery: she is introduced to a host of characters, who each lead her to a little revelation, the sum of which become Wabi Sabi’s understanding of the namesake she embodies.
The book is written with lovely clear prose, but it’s the haiku on each page that moves the story along, revealing a little more of the elusive definition.
The artist, Ed Young, a Caldecott medalist (for “Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China”), marries the prose and poetry with beautiful collages made up of natural elements as well found objects. This art is a metaphor for wabi sabi itself: capturing a moment of transcendent beauty in ordinariness, while the medium embodies the aesthetic spirit.
The tone of the book is beautiful, serene, and a little bit mysterious. What a gift for the artists, poets, design-savvy and, yes, kids on your list this year (the publisher suggests that this book is suitable for the philosophical 3-6 year olds in your life).
If your interest is piqued, here’s an interview with the author and artist. Creating the art in particular is a very special story.