Thirty works by painter Iwasaki Chihiro are on display in an exhibition at the Japan Foundation Centre for Cultural Exchange.

The image of a little girl is a reappearing motif in Chihiro's paintings, including A Girl in Pink Sweater (1970) and A Rabbit and a Girl (1972), while Children in the Garden in Spring (1969) and Children Have a Peep Through a Brushwood (1970) also feature mischevious children.

Many of them were used as illustrations in the book Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Kuroyanagi Tetsuko. The author, whose nickname is Totto-chan, is the director of the Chihiro Art Museum and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. The book is her memoirs of her time at Tomoe Gakuen, a Tokyo elementary school, where education was unconventional, a combination of learning with fun, freedom and love.

"Although Chihiro passed away a long time ago, her works have received a lot of attention and interest from people around the world," said centre director Takeji Yoshikawa. "Tetsuko herself chose these pictures to illustrate her book."

The book, which has sold more than 7.6 million copies in Japan , has been translated into 35 languages, and Chihiro's works have contributed to its worldwide popularity.

The exhibition, held to mark the 30th anniversary of its Japanese publication and the launch of its Vietnamese version, also includes photos of the elementary school and copies of the book translated from Japanese into other languages such as Thai and English.

Chihiro was born in 1918 in Fukui Prefecture and moved to Tokyo the following year. She began to study sketching and oil painting at the age of 14. In her career, she received such awards as the Graphic Prize at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in 1971 and a bronze medal at the Leipzig International Book Fair in 1974.

The exhibition in Hanoi will run until August 31 at 27 Quang Trung street ./.