The Inch Boy is a childerens book by author Junko Morimoto. The basic story runs thus:

Long ago in Japan, a gentle old couple pray to buddha every week, asking him to give them a child. They awaken one morning to find a tiny baby (hence the title) outside their door. Happily they take the boy in and name him Issunboshi, "Little inch boy".

As time went on Issunboshi didn't grow at all but he had a good heart and wished to become a Samurai to serve a great lord in Kyoto. When he reached maturity Issunboshi set out to Kyoto on the river - using a rice bowl and a chopstick as boat and paddle he made his way to the great city. There he found the palace of the Lord Sanjo and upon attracting the guard's attention he was taken to meet the Lord himself (amongst a great deal of shock and confusion no doubt).

Our miniscule hero was appointed "Special bodyguard to the princess Makiko - Lord Sanjo's daughter. On one of their journeys the procession was halted by the gigantic Red demon who defeated the other Samurai and came for the princess... Not one to be dishonoured, Issunboshi challenged the great demon, who laughed at him and taunted the inch boy regarding his diminuative stature.

As the demon was bellowing, Issunboshi leapt into his mouth and used his sword (a needle) to jab at the monster's insides, causing it to surrender and take flight. As Issunboshi touched the demon's discarded magic hammer he began to grow. He kept growing and became a gallant samurai named General Horikawa. Word of his bravery spread across the land and he was offered the princess' hand in marriage. Not forgetting his loving parents General Horikawa invited them to live in his new palace in Kyoto where they happily lived out their days...

The message of the book is that size matters not and that as long as your heart is in the right place and you have the courage to live out your dreams, anything can be achieved. A rather good message and quite relevent to today's world I think.

The book itself is beautifully illustrated (also by the author) and totals about 20 pages. It was first published in 1984 by William Collins in sydney, Australia.

As spiregrain has pointed out, the moral of this story may not be "size matters not" due to the fact that Issunboshi had to grow to normal size to achieve fulfillment. I now propose that it was because Issunboshi stayed true to his beliefs through times of peril that he was able to achieve fulfillment.

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