Our recent nighttime routine, aside from me telling odd Japanese fairy tales to the kids, is to read Yorukuma (Night Bear), an absolute favorite of both the kids and myself.
[Spoiler Alert] It’s an enchanting tale about a child who is visited in the middle of the night by a little bear. The little bear had awoken to find its mommy gone so the child goes on a search with the bear. They look in honey stores, in parks, under tables and even in the sky. In the end they find the mommy fishing for star-eyed fish in order to feed the little one.
The beautiful, soft-spoken illustrations set the tone for this oh-so common story that so often goes untold. It strikes a cord with kids, who always want to be with their mommy and daddy, but also with working parents, who must, on a daily basis, deal with the pain of explaining to their child why they must leave them to go out and work.
It was written and illustrated by Komako Sakai. One of her later works, Snow Day (2005), was published in English and went on to be named by the New York Times as one of the best children’s books of 2009.