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Erika-San
     

Erika-San

4.7 7
by Allen Say
 

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Caldecott Medalist Allen Say creates a beautiful story about an American girl who seeks adventure in Japan and discovers more than she could have imagined.

In her grandmother’s house there is one Japanese print of a small house with lighted windows. Even as a small girl, Erika loved that picture.

It will pull her through childhood, across vast oceans and

Overview


Caldecott Medalist Allen Say creates a beautiful story about an American girl who seeks adventure in Japan and discovers more than she could have imagined.

In her grandmother’s house there is one Japanese print of a small house with lighted windows. Even as a small girl, Erika loved that picture.

It will pull her through childhood, across vast oceans and modern cities, then into towns—older, quieter places—she has only ever dreamed about.

But Erika cannot truly know what she will find there, among the rocky seacoasts, the rice paddies, the circle of mountains, and the class of children.

For Erika-san, can Japan be all that she has imagined?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Many themes—Erika’s search for "old Japan"; the subtle chain of incidents that lead to love—may appeal most to older readers, perhaps even adults. Children with a strong curiosity about another culture, though, will recognize Erika’s unwavering interest, and many readers will welcome the varied views of Japan, from city to town to tiny village reflected in Say’s exquisitely rendered watercolors."—Booklist

"With luminous watercolors and economical text, Caldecott Medalist Say (Grandfather's Journey) tells of an American girl whose ingenuous hopes of reaching "old Japan" are finally realized . . . Say sprinkles Japanese words and definitions smoothly into the story as Erika surprises a male colleague (and readers) with the thoroughness with which she pursues her dream. Although the plot may prove slow going for many in the target audience, aficionados of Say's tranquil work will find both the message and the delivery deeply satisfying."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Expert angles and a touching sense of stillness make this piece visually masterful even while conceptually disquieting."—Kirkus Reviews

"Say’s storytelling and art are as absorbing as ever; the illustrations of rural Japan will have adults yearning for their own remote farmhouse."—Horn Book

"Say's eloquent watercolors are a lesson in composition, with dramatic geometry, especially diagonals, bringing poise and elegance to what could otherwise be ordinary scenes."—The Bulletin

"Say's book makes a case for following your dreams, however inchoate and even . . . dreamlike they are."—New York Times Book Review Bookshelf

Publishers Weekly

With luminous watercolors and economical text, Caldecott Medalist Say (Grandfather's Journey) tells of an American girl whose ingenuous hopes of reaching "old Japan" are finally realized. The narrative starts off highly truncated: a single page is devoted to Erika's childhood fascination with a serene print of a Japanese teahouse in her grandmother's house; the next compresses "middle school and... high school and all the way through college," after which she heads to Japan to teach. The pace changes, becoming almost folkloric as Say presents the country through Erika's eyes. Unable to remember her Japanese, she sees Tokyo as "a hundred cities all crammed together" and knows that she will not find "her" house there. After moving to and rejecting a second location (it's picture-pretty, but too noisy), she lands in the right spot. Say sprinkles Japanese words and definitions smoothly into the story as Erika surprises a male colleague (and readers) with the thoroughness with which she pursues her dream. Although the plot may prove slow going for many in the target audience, aficionados of Say's tranquil work will find both the message and the delivery deeply satisfying. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal

Gr 3-5

Say's exquisite paintings provide backdrop for a charming fairy tale with a contemporary, feminist twist. Here, it is a girl (read "princess") whose quest to find her heart's desire is at the core of the story. As a child, Erika becomes entranced with a painting on her grandmother's wall, depicting a small rustic house in Japan. Determined to find it, she prepares (in true fairy-tale fashion) for her journey, learning about the country and studying the language. Following college, she begins her search, and accepts a teaching assignment in Japan. Once there, it takes the proverbial three challenges before she finds success. Tokyo is too large, another (unnamed) city is too noisy, but in the third place-a small rural island community-Erika finds the house of her dreams, a welcoming class of children, and a "prince" named Aki to share her life. The house in the painting, she discovers, is a teahouse, where one day, kimono-clad, she happily performs a formal tea ceremony for Aki. Say's soft-colored paintings, detailed but not busy, contain just the right amount of nuance to build the story. He nicely contrasts the busyness of the cities with the verdant landscapes of the country, casting a happy-ever-after glow to the tale. More romantic and idealistic than many of Say's stories, Erika-San will find readers beyond the usual picture-book crowd.-Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA

Kirkus Reviews
Say's hallmark watercolors, beautifully composed and superbly detailed, illustrate this slightly unsettling shift of homeland. As a small child, Erika-white, probably American-is enraptured by a framed Japanese print on her grandmother's wall. She yearns to move to the cottage in the picture, studies Japanese for years and secures a job in Japan after college. But Tokyo is too populated for her taste, and, wanting somewhere quieter, she requests "old Japan." Her longing for a timeless land imagined from a childhood picture would better suit a fable than a realistic story about a real country; here it seems to reduce Japan to Erika's fantasy. Friend-cum-fiance Aki inquires whether Erika's grandfather was a soldier when in Japan, but Erika neither knows nor cares, making World War II seem less irrelevant than ignored. Erika finds her romanticized Japan, complete with kimono, tea ceremony lessons and a farmhouse that Say paints gorgeously-in the same hues and values as the old print. Expert angles and a touching sense of stillness make this piece visually masterful even while conceptually disquieting. (Picture book. 5-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618889334
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
01/26/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
10.90(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
AD540L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Many themes—Erika’s search for "old Japan"; the subtle chain of incidents that lead to love—may appeal most to older readers, perhaps even adults. Children with a strong curiosity about another culture, though, will recognize Erika’s unwavering interest, and many readers will welcome the varied views of Japan, from city to town to tiny village reflected in Say’s e xquisitely rendered watercolors."—Booklist

"With luminous watercolors and economical text, Caldecott Medalist Say (Grandfather's Journey) tells of an American girl whose ingenuous hopes of reaching "old Japan" are finally realized . . . Say sprinkles Japanese words and definitions smoothly into the story as Erika surprises a male colleague (and readers) with the thoroughness with which she pursues her dream. Although the plot may prove slow going for many in the target audience, aficionados of Say's tranquil work will find both the message and the delivery deeply satisfying."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Expert angles and a touching sense of stillness make this piece visually masterful even while conceptually disquieting."—Kirkus Reviews

"Say’s storytelling and art are as absorbing as ever; the illustrations of rural Japan will have adults yearning for their own remote farmhouse."—Horn Book

"Say's eloquent watercolors are a lesson in composition, with dramatic geometry, especially diagonals, bringing poise and elegance to what could otherwise be ordinary scenes."—The Bulletin

"Say's book makes a case for following your dreams, however inchoate and even . . . dreamlike they are."—New York Times Book Review Bookshelf

Meet the Author

Allen Say was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1937. He dreamed of becoming a cartoonist from the age of six, and, at age twelve, apprenticed himself to his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei. For the next four years, Say learned to draw and paint under the direction of Noro, who has remained Say's mentor. Say illustrated his first children's book -- published in 1972 -- in a photo studio between shooting assignments. For years, Say continued writing and illustrating children's books on a part-time basis. But in 1987, while illustrating THE BOY OF THE THREE-YEAR NAP (Caldecott Honor Medal), he recaptured the joy he had known as a boy working in his master's studio. It was then that Say decided to make a full commitment to doing what he loves best: writing and illustrating children's books. Since then, he has written and illustrated many books, including TREE OF CRANES and GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY, winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal. He is a full-time writer and illustrator living in Portland, Oregon.

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Erika-San 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Smiles back and starts to walk towards you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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