today's book pile book is slightly out of style with my regular crazy psychedelic features, but i wanted to share this with you because its fascinating and beautiful in such a different way. this book belonged to my grandmother, who recently gave it to me to share with my son seeing as i enjoyed it so much, growing up.
the grateful crane
direction by kozo shimizu
text by ann herring
published by gakken, 1972
the story is the traditional japanese tale of the grateful crane, or the crane wife as its sometimes known. the illustrations are created with specifically constructed dolls in collage that give the story literal depth as well as creating an aesthetic link to the heritage of the tale. the textures of the rice paper, wood and woven fabric all evoke a very beautiful, very japanese story.
an old man finds a crane caught in a trap. he frees the crane and it flies off joyously beating its wings. later that night the old man and his wife take in a beautiful young lady who claims to have lost her way in the snow. the beautiful girl stays with them and becomes their adopted daughter, whom they call o-tsuru "miss crane" as she's tall and graceful.
she offers to weave the old couple some fabric, however she insists she must be left alone in the weaving loft. for three days she works tirelessly, and the couple begin to worry for her health. at last she emerges with a bolt of finished brocade. couple are astonished at the fine quality of fabric she's created. she tells the old couple to sell the cloth.
a merchant comes to see the cloth and tells the couple its the finest cloth he's ever seen. he pays them in gold, and they are amazed at all the riches they've earned.
the village children love o-tsuru, and her kind and cheerful nature have warmed the once lonely house. again she asks to use the loom to weave another bolt of cloth. she reminds the couple not to look, but the old lady's curiosity gets the better of her, she can't understand how such beautiful fabric can come from the old loom. she looks in on o-tsuru and finds a crane plucking its feathers and weaving them into the cloth.
suddenly the crane disappears and o-tsuru tells the old couple that she is the crane the old man saved. she thanks them for their care and tells them she must go. she changes back into a crane and flies off into the mountains.