Chirri and Chirra are two identical Japanese children who live in a hut on the edge of a forest. Each of their adventures sees them set off on their bicycles for an adventure in the natural world.
In the Snowy Day the children are even more rosy cheeked than normal, as they ignore the unsuitable cycling conditions and plough through the frozen scenery into a magical ice cave populated by impossibly cute animals.
There are a lot of cute animals.
Everything about this small but perfectly formed book is a sensory delight, from the warm, off white paper to the soft, to the dreamy endpapers. Kaya Doi is a Tokyo based illustrator, prolific and much loved in Japan. The Chirri and Chirra stories are her first to appear in English, thanks to the wonderful Enchanted Lion books and a translation by Yuki Kaneko.
Much about this world is familiar, even for readers with only a passing knowledge of Japanese children’s books; the multitude of happy animals, the idyllic natural setting and the fantastical elements.
The real pleasure comes from the imaginitive flourishes, like the game of marbles played with the ‘frozen buds of many kinds of flowers.’ These marbles are later taken into a hot spring where they melt and the flowers bloom.
Readers young and old will instantly warm to the world of Chirri and Chirra, it’s the picture book equivalent of wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and sipping slightly too hot chocolate whilst covered in kittens.
Chirri & Chirra: The Snowy Day is published by Enchanted Lion