[JAPANESE CHILDREN'S BOOK PUBLISHED IN DOOMED WWII JAPAN - 1945]. Dobutsu no okasan / okaasan 4 sai kara 6 sai [ドウブツノオカアサン]. ["Mothers of the animal world - Ages 4 to 6"]
Tokyo: Children's Book Publishers [Jidō Tosho Shuppansha / 児童図書出版社], 1945 (July 10). First Edition. Large 4to. 12 unnumbered pages (including color-printed stiff wrappers). Minor toning (as is almost always the case with Japanese paper produced at the end of WWII), some evidence of use (no doubt by tiny hands). Overall in remarkably good condition. Very good. Item #3801
AN IMPOSSIBLE SURVIVAL: THIS JAPANESE CHILDREN'S BOOK WAS PUBLISHED IN TOKYO AT THE VERY END OF WWII, SPECIFICALLY ON JULY 10, 1945: FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE FIREBOMBING OF TOKYO (MAR. 9-10) WHICH EFFECTIVELY DESTROYED THE CITY, AND FOUR WEEKS BEFORE THE ATOMIC BOMBING OF (AUG. 6) AND NAGASAKI (AUG. 9, 1945).
How is it possible that this charming, decidedly "Western-looking" children's book survived, having been published shortly after Tokyo had been subjected to the single most destructive bombing raid in human history: 16 square miles of the city were completely destroyed; 100,000 people died; and over one million were left homeless. For obvious reasons, paper in Japan was extremely scarce at this time; the publication of almost anything unrelated to the war effort was prohibited.
The text was written by Masaru Mizutani (1894-1950), a female author who specialized in children’s books; the illustrations were executed by Kenzaburo Yoshizawa (1893-1967) a male artist known for his Western-style posters and magazine covers. The illustrations herein are accompanied by moral lessons on being patient, sharing, etc. We are grateful to Matthew Fraleigh for his English translation:
[Dog with pups]: "Delicious milk! Sweet milk! Some seem to want it all for themselves! Don't be mean, pushing others away or knocking others off; everyone should get along amicably and drink up in the same way."
[Mother Cat with kittens]: "Our (old) home under the verandah was scary wasn't it! But our new home is a nice one. The bad doggie won't come anymore so we can live at ease and at peace."
[Birds and chicks]: "It's a delicious worm isn't it? I’ll give some to each of you in order, wait your turn. Mom is good at hunting for worms and she’ll bring more for you soon."
[Mare and foal]: "Stretching his legs, he runs as hard as he can. Totto totto. Following mother, trying not to get left behind, he makes the effort. Totto totto."
[Duck and ducklings]: Now then, come here. The water in the river is not scary at all. If you do just what Mommy does and move your little footsies in the same way, you can swim so easily and it's such fun."
¶ Not in the National Diet Library of Japan. FirstSearch locates only a single copy worldwide (University of Minnesota = OCLC 741990863).