The Hans Christian Andersen Award

1994 - Michio Mado

Born: 16 November 1909, Tokuyama, Yamaguchi, Japan

Died: 28 February 2014

Author's quote: "Why are only the oldest always the newest? "

Field: Children's Literature

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By Michio Mado

About Michio Mado

Michio Mado was a Japanese poet. He received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1994 for his "lasting contribution to children's literature".

Mado was born as Michio Ishida in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi prefecture. He spent his childhood with his grandfather because his parents went to work in Taiwan. Later he joined his family there. He graduated from the School of Industrial Instruction in Taipei and then worked for the Office of the Governor-General. He died on February 28, 2014, aged 104.

For the last half a century, literally everyone in Japan, of any age, has been familiar with the children's song 'Little Elephant'. This, and other well-known songs by the same writer, are almost as popular as Mother Goose nursery rhymes in the English-speaking world. But not many knew that these verses were written by a man named Michio Mado, and even fewer were aware that Mado was in fact a serious artist, both in poetry and in painting – that is, until two years ago, when Mado's 100th birthday was widely celebrated across the nation. Michio Mado was born in 1909 (the same year that Maurice Maeterlinck published L'oiseau blue and one year before Tolstoy died) in the Yamaguchi Prefecture. One morning, when he was six, Mado woke up to find that his parents had taken his brother and sister and immigrated to Taiwan, leaving him behind with his grandfather. Four years later, he joined his family in Taiwan, and remained outside Japan for the next 27 years, first as a student and then as a soldier during World War II. It is in these turbulent years that Mado studied poetry and children's verse with Hakushu Kitahara, a master poet of the time.

After returning to Japan in 1946 at the age of 37, Mado worked for about ten years as an editor for a children's magazine, and then became a freelancer, writing mostly children's songs for a living, but also working on poems for himself. From his mid 50s, Mado developed a passion for painting as well. He has published numerous books of poetry and children's verse, and been awarded with many prestigious literary prizes, including the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1994.


The Magic Pocket: Selected Poems - Michio Mado

By A Customer

I work in a library, and I came across this book reshelving children's books. As I am fascinated with anything and everything Japanese, the instant I noticed the kanji symbols on the page I simply had to check it out. Bring poetry into the picture and I was absolutely captured.

With its side-by-side translations of the poems, this is a clever introduction to Japanese culture, though the only purpose the kanji serve is for show-there's not a lot a four-year-old can do with a poem written entirely in Japanese, much less fourteen. I'd place the listening level for this book at around ages 2 - 6, and the reading level a couple years higher. The poems are simple and relate well to a child's imagination. A stanza from "Let's Play Together" illustrates this: "Wouldn't it be nice\If a baby elephant\Came to my house,\Saying, 'Let's play together.'\Wouldn't it be nice,\ Mommy?"

The illustrations were best described by Publisher's Weekly: "The milk-white paper cuts on beige pages sustain a tone of classic simplicity which is echoed in the poems." While the translations are best described by the School Library Journal: "The translations...refreshingly retain Japanese onomatopoeia instead of substituting more familiar English equivalents."

This is a good example of children's poetry-real poetry, not just a book written in rhyme simply because the author thinks of him or herself as a poet. But then again, a parent might consider the book's best asset to be its brevity, as a couple of poems might be good substitute for a bedtime story. Seeing as the last poem in the book is called "Good morning and good night," this may have been the author's intent all along.


The Magic Pocket: Selected Poems - Michio Mado

By Louise D

Delightful poems illustrated by Anno and translated by the Empress of Japan. For early Hiragana readers, this book is great reading and speaking practice with simple but elegant little poems for children.