Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Art by Ed Young

Text by Mark Reibstein

Yugen is the story of a boy remembering his mother, told in haiku and pictures, a book of longing and remembrance that is unequaled in its beauty and poetic simplicity. "Yugen" is not just a nickname for the main character, it is also a profound concept in Asian societies that points to the mystery and beauty of the universe and of human suffering. Yugen, the second collaboration between Caldecott-winning illustrator Ed Young and Mark Reibstein, after their award-winning 2008 debut, Wabi Sabi, beautifully captures a boy's sadness, but also his mindfulness and wonder.

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“Subtly rhyming haiku relate the poignant story, told from a child’s viewpoint, of a mother who leaves home, returns, and leaves again. Both the poetry and illustrations reveal the love between the mother and son.… Text and pictures skillfully combine to portray the emotions of a small boy who is left to wonder if his absent mother will ever return. The Author’s Note defines the Japanese word yugen as 'subtle and profound,' which will be how readers describe their feelings about this second author/illustrator collaboration.”

“Step into a dream of a story by the team that created Wabi Sabi (2008). Reibstein and Young reunite in this sophisticated, dreamy, lyrical tribute to maternal love and loss, the eternity of memories, and the power of nature to depict human emotions.... This unconventional picture book offers opportunities to discuss poetic form, Japanese culture and customs, artistic style, and storytelling—making this book perfect for older readers as well. Beauty is ever present in this book, amid loss and mystery.”

“A stirring and graceful expression of love, loss, and quiet longing.”

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Ed Young is a renowned illustrator and writer of children's picture books. Born on November 28, 1931, in Tientsin, China, he moved to the US as a young man, where he worked at an advertising agency before illustrating his first book, The Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories by Janice May Urdry, in 1962. Since then he has illustrated over eighty children's books, seventeen of which he has also written. Throughout his long career he has received over fifty awards and honors, including the Caldecott Medal in 1990 for Lon Po Po, his retelling of a Chinese version of "Little Red Riding Hood," and Caldecott Honors for The Emperor and the Kite (1967) and Seven Blind Mice (1992). He has been nominated twice for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition given to children's book authors and illustrators for their contribution to children's literature. His books frequently draw on folklore from Chinese, Native American, Indian, Persian, and other cultures, and he uses a variety of media, including pencil, pastel, ink, collage, cut paper, photographs, and found materials. He lives in Westchester County, New York, with his two daughters and two cats.