- Eiko KadonoAuthor–Japan
Click for larger view
View full resolution
Eiko Kadono is one of Japan's most active writers in many different areas of the world of children's literature today. Extensive experience overseas inspires the rich imagination and creativity of her works. Her career-long involvement with children's books is based on her belief that they have the power to bring people together and unite the world. She has not only published nearly two hundred original works—picturebooks, books for preschoolers, fantasies, stories for young adults, and essay anthologies—but also translated into Japanese more than a hundred works by overseas picturebook authors such as Raymond Briggs and Dick Bruna. The very quantity of her publications testifies to her broad and vigorous activities in the world of children's books.
Among Japan's leading children's book authors, she is one who is familiar and popular among a remarkably broad spectrum of readers, from young children to teenagers, and across a variety of genres. Her Majo no takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service) was produced as an animation film by Studio Ghibli under the direction of Hayao Miyazaki in 1989, and translations of the original work have been published and favorably reviewed overseas. As with the live Japanese film made of that series in 2014, featuring Kadono herself as the voice of the narrator, her contributions to the world of children's literature are dynamic and diverse.
Eiko Kadono was born in Tokyo in 1935. Her mother died when she was five, and Kadono later crystalized her memories of that time in her autobiographical fantasy Rasuto ran (Last Run), published in 2011. The Pacific War started in December 1941, and Kadono's father went off to war. In the autumn of 1944, as attacks on the Japanese mainland intensified, Eiko was in the fourth grade of elementary school when she was evacuated to the deep-snow country of Yamagata Prefecture. Later, as the air raids on Tokyo grew fiercer, she joined her stepmother, younger sister, and two younger brothers, who had moved to Chiba Prefecture, where they remained until the war ended. Her 2015 work, Tonneru no mori 1945 (The Tunnel Through the Woods, 1945) is based on memories of that time. The searing experiences of wartime in her childhood not only led to her strong desire for peace but also went far in shaping the distinctive humor and ways she describes happiness that can be observed in all her works.
The worlds depicted in Kadono's stories open up scenes sometimes grand in scale and vividly fleshed out from the author's bountiful imagination and experience. The appeal of her literature—populated with unique characters endowed with the virtues and foibles of human beings everywhere, and captivating for her mellifluous style touched with whimsy and humor—is of a kind that can surely be shared by children not only in Japan but around the world. [End Page 26]