Paper Boat, Paper Bird
David Almond, illustrated by Kirsti Beautyman
Hodder Children’s Books
Mina – a character from Skellig and its prequel My Name is Mina is now visiting Japan with her mother, experiencing the culture and learning a great deal. While travelling on a bus in Kyoto she watches a woman folding a piece of paper that becomes an origami boat; this she gives to Mina and soon after, a paper bird and when she leaves the bus, some origami paper. Watching the woman fashion these almost magical things from squares of paper captures Mina’s imagination.
As she travels to the temple at Kinkaku-ji, she holds onto her delight in the origami
and in the garden surrounding the temple Mina creates a boat and bird herself. She places the bird in the boat and gently puts it into one of the streams. Later it’s discovered by Mikaya who is with his dad; the boy notices the name on each one and when they stop, he writes his name on the bird and launches it into the air: communication and kindness are passed through origami,
and eventually Mina and Mikaya meet one another.
Powerfully beautiful – the power being in the simplicity of the telling and also in Kirsti Beautyman’s illustrations that have an airy, almost ethereal quality to them. David’s story is based on a real life happening when he was in Tokyo with his young daughter. He uses his awesome art of creating a story out of brief experiences and as always with his stories, this one with its quiet, contemplative gentleness resonates long after you’ve put the book down.