Golden Threads, written by Suzanne Del Rizzo and illustrated by Miki Sato, is a picture book about broken things that can be mended: hearts, toys, and people.
Fox, a stuffed animal, is perfectly happy living with his beloved Emi and her grandmother in a house under a ginkgo tree. Then a sudden storm lifts him up and rips him away from all he has known, leaving him torn and broken in a strange place. An old man finds him and brings him to his granddaughter, Kiko, who is in a wheelchair. Her foot is broken after some kind of accident.
As Kiko repairs Fox’s fur with golden thread, she finds a clue to where he has come from: a golden ginkgo leaf. Over the next year, Kiko graduates from a wheelchair to crutches, and she and Fox become loving friends. When the seasons circle back to fall, a trail of floating ginkgo leaves leads them across the water to Emi. Kiko, Emi, and their grandparents celebrate their new friendship and Fox’s happiness is complete. All that has been broken – Fox, Kiko’s foot, the ginkgo tree, china cups that were damaged in the storm – is mended, and their scars add a new dimension to their beauty.
Inspired by the Japanese concepts of kintsugi and wabi sabi, Del Rizzo and Sato have created a gentle, transcendent book. Kintsugi is a Japanese art form where broken china is repaired using golden seams that emphasize the damage rather than conceal it, and wabi sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection. Sato uses layers of cut paper and fabrics to create intricate, three-dimensional images. Bright sunflower petals, whipped-cream clouds, tiny, perfect acorns, and the fine gold stitching on Fox’s fur all add to the rich, textured world of the story.
The book has some flaws: younger readers will find Del Rizzo’s vocabulary challenging and may be confused about Kiko’s eyesight. Her eyes are always shown as closed behind her glasses, and she identifies things by smell and touch, yet she does fine stitching to repair Fox’s fur. This needs some clarification. However, the story is so moving and the artwork so exquisite that readers will be completely captivated.