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It’s autumn in Tokyo, and 12-year-old Akira and his younger siblings Kyoko, Shige, and little Yuki have just moved into a new apartment with their mother. Akira hopes it’s a new start for all of them. But their mother soon begins to spend more and more time away from the apartment, and then one morning Akira finds an envelope of money and a note. She has gone away with her new boyfriend for a while. For a brief time the children bask in their freedom. They shop, explore, plant a little balcony garden, have the playground to themselves. Even when the bank account is empty and the utilities are turned off and the children become increasingly ill kempt, it seems in the bustling big city, nobody notices them. It’s as if nobody knows.
Shelley Tanaka is an award-winning author, translator, and editor. She teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts, in the MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Shelley lives in Kingston, Ontario.