Ahead of the Missouri Botanical Garden’s “OrigamiintheGarden” exhibit, which opens April 17, Ready Readers is sharing two books showcasing this ancient Japanese art.
Origami, of ouu (“Fold”) and kami (“Paper”), has a rich cultural history dating back over a millennium. Although the large outdoor sculptures in the garden involve much stronger materials than paper, these highlighted volumes bring art back to its original medium.
In Yoko’s paper cranes, writer / illustrator Rosemary Wells presents origami as a multigenerational family activity in Japan. Yoko and her grandparents love to visit the cranes that congregate in their garden. Saddened by the birds’ departure for the winter, Yoko’s grandmother gently explains that the cranes will be back in the spring. To ease her grief, Yoko’s grandfather teaches the girl to fold squares of paper into avian shapes.
Years later, when Yoko and her parents leave Japan, her grandparents send weekly letters to her new home in America. Keeping their shared memories alive, Yoko folds paper cranes to commemorate their birthdays.
Wells’ collages feature her recognizable characters on colorful, patterned origami paper backgrounds, lending depth and authenticity to the story.
During this time, Plus-igami, by writer Dori Kleber and illustrator G. Brian Karas, introduces readers to Joey, a curious boy intrigued by the paper crane folded by a classmate’s mother during a visit to school . When Joey expresses his interest in learning the art, Ms. Takimoto replies, “I can show you the folds, but if you want to become an origami master, you will need practice and patience.