Anno’s China by Mitsumasa Anno is a picture book for all ages. In fact, it’s beautiful enough to be a coffee table book.
Originally published in Japan, Anno’s China was recently translated and brought to the United States by Beautiful Feet Books. When first flipping through, you might assume that it’s entirely wordless. However, the back matter contains beautifully written descriptions (by the author) of each scene.
Anno modeled his artistic journey up the Yellow River after the famous Chinese scroll painting Along the River. Most of his exquisitely detailed illustrations depict China as he saw it 30 years ago. When he alters details, he notes it in that scene’s description. However, each scene contains many more details that he leaves for the careful observer to discover.
Though Anno is describing China as an outsider, his perspective is not Western. He sees China through his Japanise perspective, often relating different aspects of China to aspects of Japanise culture. Thus, you actually get a taste of two different cultures when reading Anno’s China.
There are multiple ways to explore Anno’s China, depending on your children’s ages. If you are reading with younger kids, I’d recommend you, the adult, familiarize yourself with the descriptions first to be able to point out details as you examine the illustrations with your child. For older children, you could read the scene description aloud while showing them each page spread. I think children and adults of all ages will enjoy pouring over Anno’s paintings of China as he observed it 30 years ago.
Do you have a favorite book about China?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Beautiful Feed Books <http://bfbooks.com/>. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”