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The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai

Many times I find some of the best books at library book sales. The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai, by Francois Place, is one of them. This beautifully illustrated book includes many of Japanese artist Hokusai’s works as well as other illustrations, and its fable-like storyline is enjoyable for both young and old alike.

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The story takes place in Japan, where a young boy, Tojiro, sells rice cakes on the street and meets an old man nine times his age. That man is a print-maker named Hokusai. Tojiro learns many lessons from Hokusai, who is like a master to him in many ways. This is a story that will have you laughing, nodding, and shaking your head all at the same time because many of us can relate to the book’s characters or have known characters much like them. Its many messages are genuinely charming to anyone who can appreciate what knowledge seniors have to share with us.

I give this book a 5-star rating.

The Tree That Survived the Winter

I often find my most treasured books in secondhand stores. Not too long ago I found a little gem titled The Tree That Survived the Winter by Mary Fahy. It’s a simple story – a fable for adults – with simplistic artwork.

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The story begins about a tree that wakes up one day to see what she has survived being removed from her comfort zone and endured a harsh winter. But then the tree begins blaming the sun for not being there when she needed it most. The sun explained to the tree that she survived because she was loved, and because she had kept faith that the sun would come back. As the tree grew, she was needed and loved by people, and each of them gave her different names.

The Tree That Survived the Winter is about having faith during difficult times. When I read the book, I had just survived a brutal “winter” myself, and took it as a sign that everything will always be okay in the end.