| Chiisai Momo-chan by Matsutani Miyoko (1926 -) is one of the best-known works for young children in the post-war period. This was written at the request of Matsutani's eldest daughter (three years old at that time). She asked the author, Matsutani, to tell her a story about the time when she was born. This book describes the wonders for young children from their viewpoints, not from that of adults.|
In the first story "Momo-chan ga Umareta Toki" [When Momo-chan was born], chewing gums, a soft ice cream, and the materials for curried rice - a carrot, a potato, and an onion - come to cerebrate Momo-chan's birth. They want to be food for Momo-chan, but Momo-chan is too small to have them. What is best for her is her mother's milk. The gurgling sound of drinking "gokkun gokkun" expresses the connection between two generations. In the next "Kû ga Pû ni Natta Wake" [Why Kû became Pû] deals with the problem of words a baby faces when he or she grows up. Baby talk used in this book also shows the progress of a baby's learning words. Fifteen chapters are independent (the fact that later some of them are made into individual picture books proves that), but they altogether make up one long story of the growth of a parent as well as of Momo-chan.
Just after its publication, many critics praised Chiisai Momo-chan; some said that this amusingly describes the growth of a child, while others highly regarded Matsutani's rhythmical story telling. It received the Noma Award for Juvenile Literature in 1964 and the NHK Award for Children's Literature in 1965.
Chiisai Momo-chan was serialized later. In a second book, Momo-chan to Pû [Momo-chan and Pû] Momo-chan's younger sister is born. The third one, Momo-chan to Akane-chan [Momo-chan and Akane-chan], deals with the divorce of parents (which was a taboo in Japanese children's literature at that time), and was highly praised. (It received the Akai Tori Literature Award.) The series was completed with the sixth Akane-chan no Namida no Umi [Akane-chan's Sea of Tears] in 1992. In 1974, the edition with photos of dolls as a cover illustration was published and reprinted 88 times by 2003. A few stories were made into kamishibai [picture-story show], and some were published as picture books with illustrations by Nakatani Chiyoko or Takeda Miho. In 1986, an English edition was published as one of the Kôdansha Pocket Books in English.