What an incredibly beautiful book this is! The pictures are amazing and the story is simple and so well written. It may be early in 2009, but I'm starting my Caldecott short list with Tsunami by Kimiko Kajikawa and illustrations by Ed Young.
The wise old rice farmer called Ojiisan, grandfather, by the villagers lives in a simple house on a hill overlooking a village. Well respected by the villagers due to his humility and success, Ojiisan chooses not to attend the festival of the rice harvest because, "something does not feel right." When earthquakes begin during the festival, Ojiisan knows that a tsunami is on the way. He observes the movements of the ocean, and even though he has never seen a tsunami, he remembers the way his grandfather described the sea running away from the shore as a sign of a coming monster wave.
In order to draw the villagers to safety, Ojiisan sets his own rice fields on fire. When the villagers begin to arrive to battle the fire, Ojiisan demands that they let it burn until all are safe on the hill. The dreaded tsunami hits, destroying the village totally and Ojiisan invites the villagers to stay with him until they can safely return home.
In the end, a temple is built to honor Ojiisan and unselfish act.
Ed Young, Caldecott winner for Lon PoPo, has created incredibly detailed collages of torn paper and other materials that bring the village and it's destruction to life. The cover alone is a work of art and the following pages get better with every turn.
I can't wait to share this gorgeous creation in THE PIT.