I've fallen in love ... with a book. The book in question is Me and Little Popof by Japanese illustrator/author Ai Akikusa. I first spotted the book in Moe magazine, the monthly Japanese magazine dedicated to children's picture books. The cover art with the fox and a bird had me intrigued. When I found out the book was about a fox and his budgie named Popof, well ... I just had to have it! I love foxes and I own two budgies, one of which is green just like Popof.
After locating it on Amazon Japan's site, I was about to order it until I saw the shipping cost, which was approximately forty dollars! What!? The book is only 800 yen, roughly fourteen US dollars. Eventually I hit upon the idea of having my mom order it through Kinokuniya Books in Los Angeles, and having her ship it to me from LA, avoiding catastrophic shipping fees.
The book arrived earlier this week, and I was surprised to find it was quite small, about 6 x 7 inches. A cute little book, it's apparently for very young children, probably about 4-6 years old, as it's printed entirely in the Japanese Hiragana phonetic alphabet. Luckily, that means that even a Kanji-challenged Japanese girl like me can read it easily!
The story centers on the fox and his little baby budgie Popof, and their daily life together. The illustrations are simple yet full of warmth. I can tell that Ms. Akikusa must have budgies herself. Every time I turn the page, I keep thinking to myself, "my budgie does that too!" She's caught all the nuances of budgie behavior.
At the end of the book, Popof grows out his wings and flies away. The translated text reads:
You can now fly as much as you want.
Come back and sit on my shoulder once in a while.
A bittersweet ending to a wonderful little book.