When you live with little girls (and, I presume, little boys—though I wouldn’t know and could not verify this fact), the veil between the real and imagined world is thin. The other day my five-year-old turned a pilfered paper bag into robot helmet and walked around the house, beep-booping pleasantly and intoning to herself, “I – am – a – ro – bot.”
Later that day, my eight-year-old converted her car seat into a helicopter cockpit, and I could hear her back there calling “Turn left! Turn left!” and pulling the arm rest up like a lever as she leaned hard into the turn.
They are always seeing something just beyond what I can see, something I’ve forgotten—since my own days as a little girl—how to see. And I’ve watched with mixed feelings as my older girls have begun to grow out of this. That doorway doesn’t remain open to them forever.
But books like Chirri and Chirra remind those of us who have crossed that threshold what it’s like on the other side, even as they give younger readers fuel for their imagination. Chirri and Chirra are two sisters who ride their bikes to simple destinations that somehow transform into magical ones. A trip to the sea becomes a trip under the sea; a trip the basement becomes a trip to an enchanting underground land. In this book, a ride in the rain leads Chirri and Chirra to the Rainy Day Cafe, a cozy place designed for watching the rain fall.
Written and illustrated by Kaya Doi, these books are brilliant little windows into childlike play. With their lilting language and soft illustrations, the books themselves seem magical—there’s something in them that inspires new adventures amid the most ordinary settings.
This post is part of my “Hooray! We’re launching a book!” blog series, celebrating the upcoming release of Wild Things & Castles in the Sky—a book I both contributed to and, alongside Leslie & Carey Bustard, helped edit. Today’s post features a book that is part of a series described bewitchingly in Wild Things.
Chirri and Chirra: The Rainy Day
Kaya Doi; trans. from Japanese by David Boyd (2021)