Title: Ichiro and the Great Mountain
Author: W. Nikola-Lisa
Genre: Juvenile fiction
Ichiro and the Great Mountain by W. Nikola-Lisa follows Ichiro, a boy who grows into a young man, then into a fully grown adult, as he journeys through different pathways in life, trying to find himself and his purpose. The story is accompanied by illustrations that bring Ichiro’s tale to life. Ichiro’s journey speaks of self-realization in an easy-to-understand manner.
W. Nikola-Lisa’s story is age-appropriate for middle to upper elementary children. At just over a thousand words and rife with simple yet compelling artwork on every page, it is a straightforward and simple read on the surface. However, it speaks on a deeper level that will resonate with all ages. It is the type of story that a child will remember long into adulthood and would enjoy rereading again and again, reflecting on its meaning. Ichiro’s journey of finding himself is universal, which makes it relatable, and it reverberates in the soul. His may not be the lofty hero’s journey, but self-transformation happens in this self-versus-self conflict.
Told in repetitive sequences, the author employs this pattern to great effect when telling Ichiro’s tale. We meet him as a boy who suddenly finds himself unhappy with his current life and longs for more, so he goes somewhere new to redefine himself and seek happiness. As we can imagine, Ichiro eventually grows bored and weary of this next stage of life and wants something more, different, and new. Everyone can understand the restlessness we often experience when life seems dull, uninspiring, and pointless. We move from one thing to the next, hoping it will satisfy, only to find ourselves as empty and disappointed as we have been previously. Often, it is appreciating what we already have when we ultimately feel most satisfied and can have inner peace.
The paradox of life is often such that we find ourselves right back where we began, in some manner, how home is always home, no matter how far we travel. While some may find it worrisome or frustrating to return to their roots, for many, we remember something of our childhoods with fondness. We speak of “the good old days” and “seeing through rose-colored glasses,” and although the past was not perfect, there is a certain innocence to circling back to that time period in our lives. This seems to be the case for Ichiro. So, while a child with less life experience may not yet appreciate the author’s lesson in the story, an older person likely will, and perhaps even embrace it.
The language is without error and flows naturally. W. Nikola-Lisa utilizes repetitive phrases and sentences to great effect. Although some may find the ending predictable, it is perhaps in its predictability that the story is most meaningful.
Ichiro and the Great Mountain is a juvenile fiction book that will provide important life lessons and insights for all ages and can be enjoyed time and again. Ichiro’s journey through the different stages of life as he seeks purpose and fulfillment will resonate on both the surface and deeper levels with readers. W. W. Nikola-Lisa’s tale is timeless, ubiquitous, and transcendent.
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