My Japan

My Japan

by Etsuko Watanabe

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Including everything from diagrams for using Asian-style toilets to the contents of a kindergartener's schoolbag, this French import presents a small-format visual dictionary of life in Japan. Densely packed spreads show seven-year-old Yumi in everyday surroundings-in her kitchen, her school, her grandparents' house-while text and additional spot illustrations supply information about objects and terms that will be new to most readers: yukata(a summer robe made of cotton) and hanetsuki(a traditional New Year's game), for example. Watanabe's workmanlike acrylics, flat and primitive-looking, focus on conveying as much visual information as possible. Some perplexing questions remain-what exactly is the mysterious door in the floor of Yumi's kitchen? Watanabe's most valuable contribution may be to show a jumble of homegrown Japanese objects and foreign imports-e.g., the pageful of Japanese dishes with the plate of spaghetti and the hamburger included among them-a jumble that characterizes not only the Japanese experience, but the rest of the global community's as well. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal

K-Gr 2

Yumi introduces readers to her country via this informational picture book. She starts with her bedroom, detailing her desk, lamp, bed (futon), closet, and school bag, and then takes readers through her kitchen, explaining what she and her family eat, and the bathroom. Small illustrations of the featured items face a full-page, full-color picture of the room, and children can look for the individual objects in it. Yumi then shows her school and explains how things work there. Transportation, vacation times, and holidays and festivals are also described. There is an illustration of a public bath (which includes cartoonish nude figures from the rear). There are no detailed descriptions of the items. On the topic of food, for example, tiny renderings show dishes such as sushi, sukiyaki, and kare raisu, but there's no explanation of what they consist of or how to pronounce them. There are tidbits that may be interesting, such as the fact that the students all help to clean the school each day, and that they remove their shoes and change into slippers there. There are also samples of Japanese writing, with the hiragana characters included as well. This is an additional purchase, better for browsing than for gaining information.-DeAnn Okamura, San Mateo County Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Originally published in France, this picture-book introduction does half the job. Seven-year-old Yumi shares information about home, her younger brother Takeshi, school, holidays and a summer visit to see grandparents. The vivid paintings have a naive quality and include many objects, including Japanese and Western toilets, complete with diagrams of how they are used. In one spread, the kitchen is pictured on one side and small vignettes of various foods fill the opposite page. Some are familiar (hamburger and spaghetti), but without descriptions, other dishes will remain unknown to anyone who is not a Japanese foodie. Japanese translations of each heading are placed decoratively in upper-left corners, but without pronunciations. Illustrations of several origami projects appear, but the word itself is not used. Yumi tries to explain the writing systems, using the difficult word "ideogram" to explain kanji, and the syllabic hiragana system is shown. Photos of real kids playing with their electronic gadgets would have enhanced this fairly traditional description. With a little help from knowledgeable adults, this book may serve its purpose. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

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Product Details

Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

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