The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
"It's a horrible day," said Will Stanton. "It's creepy somehow."
On the day before his eleventh birthday, Will and his brother escaped from their noisy, happy house into the quiet English countryside. A black wind was blowing just a bit of snow, but there was more to come, snow and blackness both, for the Dark was rising across the land.
They stopped to get some hay at Dawson's Farm. The farmer took Will aside.
"The Walker is abroad... and this night will be bad, and tomorrow will be beyond imagining."
Mitsumasi Anno grew up in a traditional, beautiful Japanese village named Tsuwano, far away from any bustling city. Although he and his family lived near the sea, the mountains all around kept Anno from experiencing its vastness until he was older. When he was a child, he drew pictures of things he could see and also imagine: mountains, houses, and ghosts. His parents ran an inn, and the colorful magazines lying about for the guests' enjoyment were a big source of inspiration to him as he developed his love of drawing.
As every baby who's ever beaten a spoon against her high chair knows, there's nothing more fun than the rhythm of a pounding drum sound. Fast or slow, loud or soft, people around the world use the drum to build community spirit.
In the summer of 1942, the Japanese were winning their war with the United States. They had sunk or crippled America's battleship fleet at Pearl Harbor, and snapped up a chain of islands across the Pacific which could, if fortified, form an impenetrable barrier to the U.S. Navy. Now the Imperial Japanese Navy was looking for a knockout blow, to destroy the American aircraft carriers before American industry replaced its losses.