Mr. Reaper

Mr. Reaper

Story and Art by Tatsuya Miyanishi

Juvenile/Picture Book
Hardcover, 32 pages, 8.5 x 10.75 inches
U.S.$14.95 / CAN$16.99
Reading Level: Preschool and Up

Buy this book.

No one knows when and where the Reaper will make his destined visit. Some may feel the Reaper is an omnipresent entity lurking around us all, just waiting for the most opportune time. So when a starving wolf finds a sickly piglet in the forest, readers may think Mr. Reaper will soon make a formal appearance. Instead, they will find that the harbinger of eternal sleep may wish to see to what lengths this unusual duo will go to survive despite their inimical instincts. Thoughtful, humorous, and packed with a share of life lessons, Mr. Reaper is a visual treat.

Death is never an easy subject to discuss, and it can be a very difficult topic to convey to children. In his first English-language release, veteran children’s book author Tatsuya Miyanishi takes on the very real themes of death, illness, and the power of one’s will with humor, sensitivity, and trademark colorful art.

Born in 1956 Tatsuya Miyanishi is one of the most popular children’s book artists currently in Japan. His kids’ books cover a wide range of genres from superheroes to dinosaurs and everything in between. Over his career he has penned more than 75 books and in 2011 his title Aren’t You Delish was adapted into an animated feature-length film.

“[Miyanishi’s] boldly colored, simplified drawings have clever, unexpected details, especially the watchful eyes of the Reaper as he witnesses the transformation of the relationship between the pig and wolf—between prey and predator—develop into something else entirely… The message for children—and their various adults—is certainly clear: in spite of (deathly) challenging circumstances, a little bit of heartfelt caring can make delightful dancing partners of even the worst-imagined foes.”
BookDragon (Smithsonian Institution)

“[Mr. Reaper]’s startling ending, in which both doomed animals are suddenly prancing in a meadow (“bodies twisting, butts wriggling“) forces a judgment call: did the animals get better or is this heaven? Rife with straight lines and overhead perspectives, the illustrations are just as cagey about characters’ emotions, making this an open-ended and oddly spiritual book.”
BookList (American Library Association)