Mouse’s Marriage by Junko Morimoto is the story of an elderly mouse couple who are looking for the best
husband in the world for their beautiful daughter. They begin by asking the Sun
to marry their daughter, but then a Cloud covers the Sun. Therefore, they ask
the Cloud to marry their daughter before he is blown away by the Wind. Then they
ask the Wind to marry their daughter until he is stopped by a Wall. They ask
the Wall to marry their daughter, but the wall begins to crack because some mice are tunneling into it. They then decide that the best mate for their daughter is another mouse, so she marries a mouse.
Mouse’s Marriage is based on an old Japanese folk tale, following the elderly mice’s search for a
suitable husband for their daughter. In Morimoto’s retelling of the story,
they finally realize that the best husband for their mouse daughter is another mouse because mice are clever enough to destroy
the strong Wall. It is brains that will serve their daughter well in a husband
rather than just brute strength.
Japan is the setting for Mouse’s Marriage, but Morimoto’s illustrations
reflect much more of the Japanese culture than her text. The mice wear traditional
Japanese kimonos. There are pagodas in the background of the illustrations as
well as traditional Japanese style homes with the traditional tiled roof. The
mice even climb on the roof of one of these homes to speak with the Cloud. One
of the trees featured in several illustrations looks like an oversized Bonsai tree, although considering the main characters
are mice, the tree might not really be oversized at all. There are also illustrations
of cherry blossom trees. Another illustration features a procession of mice carrying Japanese lanterns. The wedding feast of the mouse daughter
appears to be a traditional Japanese feast with attendees kneeling on the floor and eating from low tables. In addition to the illustrations, Morimoto includes a small drawing on the page with the text of the story. These drawings do not necessarily relate to the story or the main illustration, but
depict traditional Japanese objects like a fan, a kite, a parasol, a tea set, a screen, and even a pair of people in kimonos. It is appropriate for a traditional fable like Mouse’s Marriage to be
illustrated in a traditional way with so many Japanese symbols.
Morimoto was born in Hiroshima in 1932 and survived the atomic
bombing of that city when she was thirteen. All the children at her school were
killed by the blast, but Morimoto just happened to be home sick that day. She studied art at Kyoto University of Fine Art,
opened a children’s art studio in Osaka, and later taught
junior high art in Katano. Morimoto did not begin her career as a children’s
author and illustrator until she moved to Australia
in 1982 at the age of fifty. In spite of her late start, Morimoto won the Australian
Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award in 1998 for her book The Two Bullies.
ACU National Gallery at Strathfield
Website. http://arts-sciences-nsw.mary.acu.edu.au/artgallery/05junko.html. Accessed April 6, 2006.
Australian Government’s Culture
and Recreation Website. http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/childrensbooks/
Accessed April 6, 2006.
by Monica Wood