Kenta and the Big Waveby Ruth Ohi
The tsunami has swept everything awayincluding Kenta’s most prized possession, his soccer ball. When tragedy strikes Kenta’s small village in Japan, he does all he can to hang on to the things that matter to him most. But amidst the chaos of an emergency evacuation brought on by the tsunami, Kenta and his family must quickly leave their home,
The tsunami has swept everything awayincluding Kenta’s most prized possession, his soccer ball. When tragedy strikes Kenta’s small village in Japan, he does all he can to hang on to the things that matter to him most. But amidst the chaos of an emergency evacuation brought on by the tsunami, Kenta and his family must quickly leave their home, taking with them only the barest necessities. Climbing to safer ground, Kenta watches helplessly as his prized soccer ball goes bouncing down a hill and gets swept away by the waves, never to be seen again that is until it washes up on a beach on the other side of the world, into the hands of a child who takes it upon himself to return the ball to its rightful owner. In this evocative picture book, Ruth Ohi’s glowing art transports the reader to Japan with gentle images that offer reassurance amidst the background of an environmental catastrophe. Inspired by true stories of personal items being washed ashore thousands of miles away after the tsunami of 2011, Kenta and the Big Wave is about the strength of the human spirit and the power of Mother Nature. Including an afterword explaining tsunamis to young readers.
PreS-Gr 1—Inspired by an actual news story after Japan's record-breaking 2011 tsunami, this simple story recounts a boy's loss when a wave strikes his small coastal village. Hearing the warning siren, Kenta flees up the hill to the school with the other village residents, but he trips and his prized soccer ball rolls away into the giant wave. After the tsunami's retreat, Kenta's family discovers that they have lost everything and must live in the school gym while they rebuild. Meanwhile, Kenta's soccer ball is "plunged and pulled, tossed and tumbled" across the ocean, where it washes up on a beach and is discovered by an American boy. Enlisting the help of a librarian to translate the unfamiliar Japanese characters on it and trace its owner, the child mails the ball back to Kenta, who happily receives it. Spare language and full-color watercolor illustrations that flesh out the narrative make this a multilayered introduction to Japan, the concept of a tsunami, and the cross-cultural commonality of soccer for children. Pair this title with Kimiko Kajikawa and Ed Young's Tsunami! (Philomel, 2009) or David Wiesner's Flotsam (Clarion, 2006) to drive home the magnitude of a tsunami and ocean waves. A brief author's note about these powerful forces of nature is appended.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT
In this testament to resiliency and kindness during natural disasters, the Japanese boy Kenta's soccer ball is swept away by a tsunami and eventually returned by a child living across the Pacific Ocean. The opening double-page spread depicts an aerial view of lower-elevation homes being swallowed by waves; the ending spread, Kenta's reunion with his soccer ball while nearby, construction workers re-build his town. From beginning to end, author/illustrator Ohi manages an admirable balancing act. Young children are exposed to the realities of loss and damage while also viewing such things as children at play in the emergency shelter at the school gym and dolphins frolicking in the same waves that have carried people's belongings far away from their homes. Clever but accessible wording abounds, as in "The school gym was crowded with people looking for what they'd lost. Kenta found his mother and father. The ocean found Kenta's soccer ball." The watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are roughly hewn, but they include such careful details as English-language signs along the shoreline when the ball reaches North America. Muted colors work well with the sparse, poetic text to create an appropriate gentleness. The placement of words and pictures--and the clever device of pale banners for text over darker backgrounds--ensure easy use as a read-aloud to a group of young children. An eminently child-friendly treatment of the devastation that follows disaster. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)
Meet the Author
Ruth Ohi is an author, and the illustrator of more than 20 books for children including her bestselling Chicken, Pig, Cow series. She is a tireless presenter at schools and libraries, where she shares secrets of her trade with children. Ruth lives with her family in Toronto, Ontario. Check out Ruth's website at www.ruthohi.com.
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This is an interesting look at natural disasters and the way it affects people. The story talks about Kenta and his family after a tsunami hits their little village. They must eat and sleep in the school gym while they work to rebuild their home. The illustrations also add to the mood and feel of the book. The journey that Kenta's soccer ball goes on is quite amazing. It gets swept up by the ocean and makes it all the way to another shore where a little boy finds it and mails it back to Kenta. I love this idea, that something like a soccer ball could gets lost, supposedly forever, only to be found and returned to its owner.