Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young
Breathtaking. Pass-around-the-workroom-and-marvel-at-it gorgeous. Intense. Gripping. A terrific story. I seem unable to describe this book except in tiny movie-blurb phrases. It's that good.
Gazing upon the illustrations in Tsunami!, I could feel the thunder of the great wave in my chest. I felt the pressure of the silence before the wave, and I heard its hissing retreat. The two-page spread of the wave hovering over the village is the best work that Ed Young has ever done, and the story is just as strong. He depicts scale so masterfully here - the temple gate, in pieces, tiny against the crashing wave... the villagers so small as to look like confetti on the exposed beach.
I am grateful that the story is set "long ago" in Japan. If this book had been about the more recent tsunami, it would have been too emotionally wrenching for me, and possibly for younger readers too.