Compiled by Janet Hamilton
From the OrigamiUSA Newsletter Issue 65, Fall 1999
Many children are introduced to origami in school by reading Eleanor Coerr’s book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes”. The book tells the story of a Japanese girl who contracts leukemia years after being exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima. Most origami enthusiasts are also familiar with this story, but members of the origami-l email list have spotted a number of other children’s stories containing references to origami:
“The Boy with Paper Wings” tells the story of a boy’s fever-enhanced imaginary adventure fighting the evil Kron. The book includes instructions for folding the paper planes, boat, and shapes that the boy uses in his quest. [Written by Susan Lowell and illustrated by Paul Mirocha, Milkweed Editions, 1995, ISBN 1571316043]
“Paper John” comes to a seaside village, makes a living selling paper flowers he folds, and befriends all the kids by making paper boats. He lives in a paper house, sleeps on a paper 4-poster bed, and outsmarts the devil with his folding. The book is full of drawings of origami models and other papercrafts. [Written and illustrated by David Small, Sunburst, ISBN 0374457255]
A book called “The Paper Crane” was featured on "The Reading Rainbow" PBS television show. It is illustrated with papercuts, collages, and photos of origami cranes. The story tells of a mysterious man who leaves an origami crane in lieu of payment at a struggling restaurant. The crane then brings various kinds of good luck. [Written by Molly Bang, William Morrow and Company, ISBN 0688041086]. LeVar Burton, the host, "celebrates Japanese culture by visiting Gasho of Japan in Central Valley, New York. Surrounded by lush gardens, LeVar dons a kimono and steps into the enchanting world of Japan, exploring the ancient art of origami and the artistry of a Japanese vegetable carver at work. As a special highlight, he joins Soh Daiko, an energetic and colorful group of Japanese drummers, who perform the celebratory 'festival of the drums'". Other books mentioned on the show included Review Books: How My Parents Learned To Eat by Ina R. Friedman; 'Paper' Through The Ages by Shaaron Cosner; Perfect Crane by Anne Laurin. Highlighted Book: Easy Origami by Dokuohtei Nakano.
"Little Oh" is an origami girl who has come to life for her creator, a lonely Japanese woman. She is lost one day in a bustling market and ends up chased by a hungry dog, floated down a foaming cataract in a teacup, and flown homeward by a friendly crane. A motherless boy finds her, and when he and his father return Little Oh to her mother, the paper girl miraculously becomes a human child, the man and woman fall in love and marry, and Little Oh's family is complete. [Written by Laura Krauss Melmed, illustrated by Jim Lamarche, Lothrop Lee & Shepard, ISBN 0688142087]
"The Five Sisters" are five connected paper dolls. At the start of the story, only the first doll has a face. The other faces are filled in by humans they meet during their adventures, until each has her own unique look. At the end, the sisters set off in a paper boat seeking a magical island. The cover picture shows a canoe shaped boat made out of newspaper. [Written by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy, Viking Children’s Books, ISBN 0670870420]
George is a monkey who folds a paper hat and boat out of newspaper in "Curious George Rides a Bike". Too bad that he was supposed to be delivering the papers! George crashes his bike while chasing the floating boats, runs away with the circus, then rescues a runaway baby bear. [By H.A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0395174449]
In "Big Bird Visits the Sesame Street Library" Big Bird discovers that the book he wants to buy in the bookstore costs more than he has, so he instead visits the library. There, Big Bird sits through Story Time, listens to talking books, plays with blocks, and - learns origami! [By Deborah Hautzig, Random House; ISBN: 0394877446]
Ten preschoolers each bring in something special to share with their class in “Show and Tell Day”. There is a wide variety of objects, including an origami butterfly. [Written by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell. HarperCollins Children’s Books, ISBN 0060273011]
In the book "When We Were Very Young" there is a poem called Nursery Chairs. The picture accompanying "The First Chair" shows Christopher Robin wearing a paper hat. [Written by A.A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, Puffin, ISBN 0140361235]
In a four part Everybody's Ethnic Alphabet Poster, the letter "O" is represented by a white crane, folded by Ruthanne Bessman. The poster was published by Highsmith.
I was unable to verify a sighting of a story called "The
Origami Truce". It is
apparently one of the stories in a school reading text book.
[Re: The Origami Truce by Christine McDonnell is a 5th
grade reader published by McGraw Hill.]
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