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Illustration from "Bocchi and Pocchi: A Tale of Two Socks" by Noriko Matsubara

How Bocchi and Pocchi began


In this blog I’d like to share my inspiration for my Bocchi and Pocchi picture books and why they’re about socks, as I have been asked about it quite a lot. 

I grew up in Japan and my culture imbues everything with a spirit, so that’s part of it. But more essentially, it’s because of my grandma. When I was a child, I would bring holed socks to my grandma and she would patch up the holes for me. I loved watching her mending the socks, and patched up socks have a certain character. So I would get attached to them. I think that was when my affinity for socks began. This childhood memory gave me the inspiration for my first picture book “Bocchi and Pocchi: a Tale of Two Socks”.

I have also, always been interested in non-human characters in stories. I like looking at the world from different points of view from normal human eyes. One of my favourite children’s books from childhood was a story about a raindrop. I loved all the adventures the raindrop goes through and these adventures were so different from the ones humans would experience. So it was natural for me to come up with ‘a pair of socks’ as main characters for my story. I imagined what a sock would feel if the other half developed a hole and went missing, and how happy they would be when they found each other again.

An important character in my books is ‘Grandma mouse.’
Japanese houses in the country when I was a child were made of wood and so you sometimes found various creatures other than humans making homes in them. In the house I spent my childhood, lived mice. I would hear clattering noises from the ceiling during the night as they scampered about, and wondered what this tiny furry family was doing. These mice stirred my imagination greatly. Their memory stayed with me for three decades and I wanted to commemorate them in my picture books as ‘Grandma mouse’ and her family. In the “Bocchi and Pocchi” series she represents both the mice and my grandma, often helping Bocchi and Pocchi when they are in trouble.

I wish I could have showed my picture books to my grandma. She passed away just after I found my publisher who published my first picture book a year later. I think she would have been very amused by the sock with a hole and Grandma mouse.

This blog originally appeared on on October 7th 2018.

Noriko’s picture books are available here or on Amazon.