Books at Bedtime: Wabi Sabi

We will be publishing a full review of Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein with art by Ed Young in our next issue of PaperTigers so I’m not going to say much now – except that it is stunning and enriching, a gentle, heart-warming delight that lends itself to being read aloud in many different ways! It had already been nominated for a Fiction Picture Book Cybils Award by the time I got round to it (as had a couple of others on my list, making decisions much easier… I finally plumped for Colors! ¡Colores!, which I blogged about last week…).

We’ve been waiting for Wabi Sabi to come out for a while – and one of Aline’s and my thrills at the Bologna Book Fair in April was being shown the proofs for the book by Andrew Smith at Little, Brown and Company, where we learnt that we were not looking at the original but at the second version of art-work…

Yes, this book has an amazing, Wabi Sabi-esque story behind it. It’s hard to explain but Alvina, over at Blue Rose Girls, is the book’s editor and has blogged about its amazing story in four installments – read from Number 1 now! In the meantime, here’s what she says about what Wabi Sabi actually means:

Mark spent some time living in Japan, and while there he was introduced to the concept of wabi sabi. He asked many people about it, and they all paused and said, “That’s hard to explain.” but they would offer a poem, or a photograph, a small description, and gradually, Mark began to piece together the meaning of wabi sabi.

So, what is wabi sabi? Well, as I understand it, it is a Japanese philosophical belief in finding beauty in the imperfect, the unexpected, in simplicity and modesty. For example, a old, cracked clay tea cup is wabi sabi, but a fine china cup is not. Fallen leaves in muddy water is wabi sabi. A scruffy, multi-colored cat can be wabi sabi. Mark actually named his cat in Japan Wabi Sabi!

Her final post on the subject came out on Monday and has had me chuckling aloud – but only after I knew the outcome. All’s well, that ends well! Phew – if ever a book has gone through a parallel journey in real life, this is it!


2 Responses to “Books at Bedtime: Wabi Sabi”

  1. Aline Says:

    And I thought it couldn’t get any more interesting than what we heard in Bologna! Wow… such an incredible story!
    I’m looking forward to reading your review of the the book.

  2. Marjorie Says:

    Here’s the link to our review! http://www.papertigers.org/reviews/USA/papertigers/WabiSabi.html