Japan

Rise and Shine MarikoRise and Shine, Mariko-Chan!
Written by Chiyoko Tomioka, Illustrated by Yoshiharu Tsuchida

What is morning like at your house?

For little Mariko and her Japanese/Japanese-American family it’s a busy and happy time.  She needs to get up, get washed and then there’s breakfast with her mom and dad, her two older sisters; Yuko and Yumi, and her “Oba-san” (grandmother).

This short book with bright and inviting illustrations is a wonderful multicultural read.  It shares an experience common to all children – getting ready for the day – while allowing young readers to discover unique aspects of Japanese culture such as special names used to show affection or respect and different foods that might be part of a Japanese meal.  Written by Chiyoko Tomioka, this book was originally published in Japan as: “Chiko-chan, Itterasshai”, meaning  “See You Later, Chiko-chan!”

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Written by Yoshiko Uchida

Years ago I stumbled across several volumes of books for young readers by Japanese American writer, Yoshiko Uchida.  I fell in love with her ability to tell a compelling story from the eyes of a young person and this is one of my favorite volumes by her – the Rooster Who Understood Japanese.

It’s about a little girl named Miyo and her neighborhood.  Although a handsome rooster lives next door and is the pride and joy of her elderly neighbors, it becomes a problem for another resident who threatens to call the police because of it’s early morning crowing. Miyo is afraid the beloved pet will have nowhere to go and will become someone’s meal.  So she takes on the mission of finding a home for this special bird – a rooster that understands Japanese.

Uchida has a gift for weaving realistic details into her stories in regard to prejudice and the difficulties faced by Japanese Americans in the USA during the 1950s – 1970’s. Her young heroines succeed by using grace, cleverness, persistence and patience and have a way of making their world a better place, despite the obstacles they are forced to overcome.

And the rooster?  There’s happy ending there, too.  But you have to read the book to find out how it all turns out.

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Written by Valerie Petrillo

This book is a great way to learn about the culture and traditions of people who came to the US from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  There is a series of 70 crafts exploring cooking, art, dance, folklore and holidays as well as language, history and outstanding historical figures.

Some of my favorites from this book are the Mehndi hand painting, the Japanese fish printing craft, ribbon dancing activities, origami, taiko drumming and even a snakes and ladders game from India and a “kick-the-can” game from the Philippines.  There are lots of wonderfully easy recipes for such goodies as rice balls, Banana Lassi (yogurt drink), Vietnamese beef noodle soup and Cambodian spring rolls plus lots of suggestions for sweets!  Lastly, there are also pages for learning basic phrases in several languages such as Mandarin and Hindi.

All in all, this book is a treasure of information as well as fun activities that can liven up the home or classroom at Chinese New Year or any time of year!

Highly recommended!


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Written by Dawnine Spivak, Illlustrated By Demi

Many teachers recommend this book as a fun way to introduce children to haiku. Grass Sandals follows some of the life experiences of Basho, one of the most well-known haiku poets of Japan.  Basho lived in the 1600’s and loved nature and was even named after a banana tree.  When the poet decided to travel, his friends gave him some special gifts, including grass sandals and this book follows his quiet adventures accompanying them with poetry and wonderful Japanese style illustrations by artist, Demi.

What would a day with a monk or a poet in long ago Japan be like?  Pick up this book and you’ll see!


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Categories : Japan, Poetry
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Oct
27

Anno’s USA

Created by Mitsumasa Anno
As a young boy from Tsuwano in western Japan, Mitsumasa Anno always dreamed of faraway places.  This picture book of Mitsumasa Anno’s beautiful sketches tell a wonderful story of a journey across the land sharing the diversity of American cultures as seen through the eyes of a talented visiting artist.
Suggested Reading Level : This is a picture book, but engaging for all ages


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Oct
27

Crow Boy

Written by Taro Yashima
A little boy appears at a school in Japan and just doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the kids.  A loving teacher helps the boy find a place and be recognized for who he is.   Complete book review here: (link to review in site)
Reading level: Ages 4-8

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