| Non-chan Kumo ni Noru by Ishii Momoko (1907 -), published just after the end of World War II, was a starting point of post-war Japanese children's literature as well as that of Ishii's career as an author, theorist, and enlightener. |
This work is a rare example of stories describing the everyday life of a middle class family during and after the war in a clear and calm tone. At the end of the war, all ideologies had collapsed, and new ideas, like the search for the meaning of the self, were born. The episode of Non-chan's surprise to find that her mother has her own name, Tashiro Yukiko, is a sign of post-war democracy.
The story begins on "a fine morning about fourteen or fifteen years ago." One day, Non-chan's mother and her brother went to Tokyo while she was asleep. When she woke up, Non-chan cried bitterly and climbed a tree in a wood of Hikawa-sama near her house. She saw a pond through the leaves of the tree. The pond looked like the sky, and she fell into that "sky."
On the cloud, she met an old man with a bamboo rake. He asked Non-chan to tell him about herself. He took the side of her spiteful and mischievous brother rather than Non-chan, who was a good pupil. He told her that people should be humble to become great. Non-chan remembered what he said and decided to tell all about the cloud to somebody in her life.
Non-chan Kumo ni Noru gathered little attention when it was published by Taichi Shobô, but it was much talked about when it was published by Kôbunsha as one of the Kappa Books series. Later, several other editions were published. In 1951, it got the first Artistic Mention from the Minister of Education. In 1955, it was made into a movie with Hara Setsuko and Wanibuchi Haruko.
A critic regarded Non-chan Kumo ni Noru as a story for new elites in the new world; another criticized that the true protagonist did not exist in this book for children; another said that Non-chan was received and grew in a greenhouse without being questioned or criticized.