| Akage no Pochi by Yamanaka Hisashi (1931 -) attracted public attention as a realistic children's story when it first appeared in the coterie magazine Chiisai Nakama [Children's Friend]. The realistic description, the theme dealing with social problems, and the tone without lyricism developed a new phase of modern Japanese children's literature.|
Kakko, a fifth grade girl, lives in a tenement house in a town near a coal mine in Hokkaido. One day a red dog follows her and comes to her house. Her parents, who are poor in spite of their hard work, are against keeping the dog. Kakko, however, is fond of the dog, and it is given the name Pochi and stays with them. A boy named Ken, a classmate of Kakko, is a son of a rich family. He has a brain disorder, which might have been caused by the effect of the atomic bomb. Ken says that Pochi really is Beth, the dog he used to keep, and he takes the dog to his house. After that, Pochi is one time taken to Kakko's house, and taken back to Ken's. The story describes the people surrounding Kakko and Ken with several images like the sound of a piano at the vacant school at night, or the new baby born in Kakko's house. Kakko, who knows poverty, and Ken, who suffers from the after-effects of the atomic bomb, are two central characters of this story, connected by the dog, Pochi.
The realistic tone for criticizing social conditions at that time goes well with the story. Onomatopoeia is also used affluently to help readers to read his long story.
Akage no Pochi was praised as a new realistic story, and received the Japanese Association of Writers for Children Newcomer Prize 1956. It took a long time to be published as a book, and in 1960, with the help of Torigoe Shin, it was published from Rironsha. One critic says that this is the first story that inevitably describes people, while another said it is essentially a failure in spite of its energy.