After I finished writing the blog post on Monday, it struck me that I have another source of inspiration from my childhood: The Prancing Pony by Charlotte B. DeForest & Keiko Hida.
When I was four or five years old, my aunt and uncle (who, at that time, were living in Japan) sent me a copy of this book; I spent hours looking at the gorgeous collage illustrations and reading the odd little poems.
I had always thought that the illustrations in The Prancing Pony were made in a traditional Japanese collage style, however, when I started doing some research, I found that this form of collage, called kusa-e, was pioneered by the woman who created the illustrations for The Prancing Pony. Her name is Keiko Hida; she dyed washi paper with grass (kusa) and other natural dyes, then cut simple shapes to create elegant designs. The publisher's foreword discusses Keiko Hida's depictions of children, saying:
With what simple abbreviations are the children depicted, and yet how real and comprehensible they are. Often lacking essential features, and with bodies made of simple geometrical shapes, still to us they are dancing and running and singing, gesturing and pointing, smiling and crying... Miss Hida has given us in shorthand the essence of the child, intentionally leaving us to supply the details.
I especially love this illustration for the poem titled A Cat Called Little Bell. The poem starts off, "Kitty, kitty, pretty thing -- Ting-a-ling a-ling a-ling..."
And, to me, the illustrations of birds are magical...
A Winter's Dream
In an old plum tree
A nightingale nods,
Cold as cold can be.
He dreams a dream
Of flowers in spring
But which illustrations do I like best?
The ones of children, of course...
Do these children look familiar? You can find instructions for making them here. There are even images of tiny koinobori (carp-shaped flags) in the book which you can photo copy so your dolls can fly koinobori, too.