Friday, September 18, 2009

Sneak Peek Week! Final Installment--Janine

Hi, everyone!

Below you'll find the opening to a picture storybook that I "finished" nearly two years ago, only to have it rejected by my dream publishing house--I thought we were meant for each other! But I was wrong. Anyway, after receiving that letter, which I do still have, stuffed away somewhere, I shelved the story while I went through a grieving process--from disappointment to doubting my self-worth to "They're idiots" (Ok, maybe I still feel that way a little bit) to the determination to carry on. Though my determination wavers at times, I pulled the story out again a while ago and have been working primarily on reducing the word count, which is rather high for a picture book, and giving Jitsuko, the main character, more agency.

The story is entitled "Ojii-san's Gift" (ojii is Japanese for grandfather), and it is set in a Japanese village in the late 19th century. As it's a picture storybook, I have included only the opening scene. Much more, and you would have nearly the entire book, and I want a few surprises left for you when you pull it off the shelf of your favorite bookstore one of these days.



“When the April moon begins to grow,” Jitsuko’s grandfather told her, “watch for me on the road that leads from the west.”

“The road from Kyoto,” Jitsuko said, “and from the silk markets.”

“That’s right,” her grandfather replied, kissing the top of her head. “Now, be good for your mother and father, and take care of your grandmother for me.”

Jitsuko giggled. “You always say that, and I always do, Ojiisan.”

Ojiisan smiled. “When I return, I will bring with me a very special gift for you.”

Jitsuko’s eyes widened. Sometimes her grandfather, one of the greatest silk painters in Japan, did bring gifts for her when he returned from his journeys to sell his artwork in the markets of Kyoto—a set of lacquer ohashi, a pair of hand-painted geta, and yummy mochi. But he didn’t bring a gift every time, and never before had he promised in advance that he would.

“I’ll miss you Ojiisan, and I’ll count the days and watch the moon for you,” she said.

Forty-two days passed before the moon began to grow in the sky above Jitsuko’s village. Every day that week, Jitsuko walked to the edge of the village and stood in the middle of the road, watching and listening for her grandfather. Finally, on the 47th day, she heard the sound of dirt and pebbles grinding beneath the wheels of a cart. A cart appeared at the crest of the hill. It was pulled by a grey horse and was driven by a man with a peaked straw hat, just like her grandfather’s. The man was singing Sakura—the song of the cherry blossom—and she knew for certain that it was her ojiisan. Smiling and softly singing along, Jitsuko skipped down the road to meet him.


  1. This is great! I could visualize the illustrations! Keep at it, that sounds like a great story!

  2. I love Jitsuko, and I'm drawn into her beautiful world every time I read your story. You have a gift, Janine, and the world will totally know one day!

  3. I can't wait to see illustrations for this, I can always picture it so clearly! Janine always writes very visually.

  4. I love this, Janine. Can't wait to read the rest of it (and sell the book to my customers) someday.

  5. Thank you, everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I keeping working . . .
    : )

  6. I mean, I'll keep working---not "I keeping working."


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