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Author Study of TARO YASHIMA

by Becky Laney, Fall 2002


Taro Yashima's real name was Jun Atsushi Iwmatsu.

He was born on September 21, 1908 in Kagoshima, Japan. He grew up in a nearby village. He would write about his childhood in Japan in two books: THE VILLAGE TREE and PLENTY TO WATCH.

After highschool, Yashima studied art at the Imperial Art Academy in Tokyo for three years.

He was a successful artist in Japan, but because of his political beliefs he and his wife spent several months in prison. He described his prison experiences in his first book, THE NEW SUN. While in prison, his wife, Tomoe (Mitsu) gave birth to their son, Mako.

In 1939, Taro and his wife immigrated to the United States. Their son was left with his grandparents. The Yashimas studied at the Art Students' League in New York City from 1939 to 1941.

During World War II, Taro Yashima served in the U.S. Army in the Office of War Information and in the Office of Strategic Services. It was at this time he adopted the alias "Taro Yashima" in order to protect relatives -- particularly his young son -- who were still in Japan. His wife also adopted a pseudonym and became known as Mitsu Yashima. In 1943, he published his first book, THE NEW SUN.

After the war, the Yashimas were granted permanent residence in the United States. Taro returns to Japan to bring his son, Mako, home to the United States.

Taro and Mitsu had a second child, Momo. Momo is featured in three of her father's books: UMBRELLA, MOMO'S KITTEN, and THE YOUNGEST ONE.

Taro's first children's book was THE VILLAGE TREE published in 1953.

Several of Taro Yashima's picture books have been Caldecott Honor books: CROW BOY (1956), UMBRELLA (1958), and SEASHORE STORY (1967).

In 1954, the Yashimas moved to California. They opened an art school in Los Angeles, the Yashima Art Institute.

He died June 30, 1994.


Yashima, Taro. 1977. Umbrella. New York: Puffin Books. ISBN: 0-14-050240-8
Yashima, Taro. 1953. The village tree. New York: The Viking Press. 0-670-05072-5
Yashima, Taro. 1976. Crow boy. New York: Puffin Books. ISBN: 0-14-050172-X
Yashima, Mitsu and Taro Yashima. 1954. Plenty to watch. New York: The Viking Press. 0-670-56110-X
Yashima, Mitsu and Taro Yashima. 1961. Momo's kitten. New York: The Viking Press. 0-14-050200-9
Yashima, Taro. 1962. Youngest one. New York: The Viking Press.
Yashima, Taro. 1943. The new sun. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Yashima, Taro. 1967. Seashore story. New York: The Viking Press. 0-670-62710-0



Read my author study paper which is a detailed analysis of some of his books!

Taro Yashima Author Study Paper

Review of Umbrella

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