| Shônen no Shirushi is the first collection of Saragai Tatsuya (1942 -) containing four short stories describing a new type of child in the field of Japanese children's literature. It was published the same year as the publication of Saragai's first full-length story, Nise Matsuri [False Festival]. According to the author, both books were written when he was a university student. |
The protagonists of these stories are common boys, without a strong personality. The protagonist of the first story, "Yokoyama Tetsuo no Isshûkan" [A Week of Yokoyama Tetsuo], is the third weakest boy in his class. The protagonist of "Tobibako" [A Vaulting Box] hates physical education, especially the vaulting box. Kamakichi in "Marason" [Marathon] is described in comparison with Sawada, the chief of the student union, who is good both at study and at exercise. Yoshio in "Kûkiju" [Air Gun] is continually bullied by Gorô, and has no pride in himself.
The protagonists in Japanese children's literature in the 1960s are given active and strong personalities and the author writes about the hope for a bright future. Shônen no Shirushi has quite a different tendency: protagonists are anti-heroes. They intended to grow up, but their ways are not easy. They reflect real children, who are quite often very common, and this book tells its readers that the common lives of ordinary children are also meaningful.
Saragai later said that he wanted to write about a Japanese nightingale without a song. While former Japanese children's literature described the lively Japanese nightingale singing beautifully, Saragai focused on the quiet ones behind the singing ones. Illustrations by Ikeda Tatsuo well describe the complicated mind of boys.