“Patience, Miyuki” by Roxane Marie Galliez, illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh

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It’s the first day of Spring and Miyuki, already running through the garden, can’t wait. She urges her grandfather to wake up, but instead she is greeted with the reply:

 

Be patient, Miyuki, be patient. In an hour the day will still be here, and I’m enjoying the first rays of sunshine through my window.”

 

Patience, Miyuki, Roxane Marie Galliez, Seng Soun Ratanavanh (illus) (Princeton Architectural Press, October 2019)
Patience, Miyuki, Roxane Marie Galliez, Seng Soun Ratanavanh (illus) (Princeton Architectural Press, October 2019)

This refrain of patience is one that is gently repeated throughout the book as Roxane Marie Galliez takes Miyuki through a garden and a little flower that has yet to awaken for Spring. An eager Miyuki begins a search for water, turning to a well, the clouds and a waterfall for help. At each turn, Miyuki is told she needs to wait.

 

“Wait? I cannot wait, waterfall — I am in such a rush.”
“If you cannot wait, then I cannot help.”

 

Finally, as the first day of Spring nears its close, Miyuki succeeds in finding water, only for a mishap to make her realize what she’s missed by trying to rush.

 

MiyukiLaos-born French illustrator Seng Soun Ratanavanh provides the stunning illustrations that accompany Galliez’s words, and readers are immediately drawn into Miyuki’s magical world. The Japanese-influenced scenes use a palette greens and reds, while traditional patterning adds texture to the garden scenes. Set against the white pages, each illustration pops.

First published in French (as Attends Miyuki) in 2016, Galliez has added to the series with Au lit Miyuki and Merci Miyuki. In English, readers first met the young Miyuki and her grandfather in Time for Bed, Miyuki, published in 2018. The English version is smooth and fluid—as the story builds, the text stays simple, but with enough color and description for young imaginations.

 

But the clouds she found were too gray, too big, too far away. Then Miyuki spotted the perfect cloud.
      “Pretty cloud, my little flower needs the purest water to wake up.”
      But the pretty cloud refused to give her is water.

 

For young children, the concept of patience is not easily taught; neither is the idea that good things come to those that wait. In Patience, Miyuki Galliez finds a way to show young children what it means to wait, while also highlighting the beauty of nature and its rhythms. There is virtue in not being first and in letting things happen in their own time.

In an era when everything seems to be first and fast, Patience, Miyuki is a tender reminder of the importance of slowing down.


Melanie Ho is the author of Journey to the West: He Hui, a Chinese Soprano in the World of Italian Opera.