Tasty Baby Belly Buttons

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According to legend, Japanese villagers once lived in fear of great hulking ogres called Onis who considered babies' belly buttons the tastiest of all treats. When they raided a village it was the babies they stole. In a delightful retelling of the folktale, Judy Sierra has added a feminist twist in the person of a fearless young heroine, determined to stop them. Little Urikohme, or Melon Princess, was born inside a watermelon and has no bellybutton. She travels to the Onis' fortress island, and with the help of ...

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Overview

According to legend, Japanese villagers once lived in fear of great hulking ogres called Onis who considered babies' belly buttons the tastiest of all treats. When they raided a village it was the babies they stole. In a delightful retelling of the folktale, Judy Sierra has added a feminist twist in the person of a fearless young heroine, determined to stop them. Little Urikohme, or Melon Princess, was born inside a watermelon and has no bellybutton. She travels to the Onis' fortress island, and with the help of some animal friends, rescues the babies, leaving the Onis crying for mercy. A wonderful short tale to read aloud, children will gleefully join in the Onis' chant and cheer at the triumph of small over large. In cleverly inspired watercolors, Meilo So outfits the Melon Princess in a watermelon-designed kimono and her humorous depiction of the oversized bullies is sure to elicit giggles. An author's note discusses the origin of the tale and its place in Japanese folklore.

Urikohime, a girl born from a melon, battles the monstrous oni, who steal babies to eat their tasty belly buttons.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"This retelling of a Japanese fairy tale [in which a girl who is born from the middle of a watermelon has no belly button] is full of sweetness and stars an engaging pint-size heroine," said PW. "Irresistible watercolors effectively combine traditional elements of Japanese paintings with modern girl-power." Ages 5-8. Mar. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Heidi Green
Based on traditional Japanese folktales, this is the story of the brave warrior-cook Uriko-hime. Born from a melon, Uriko-hime has no navel. Thus, when the ominous oni steal the children of her village to satisfy their appetite for belly buttons, they leave her behind. Uriko-hime is so outraged by the kidnapping that she vows to get the children back. She takes only her father's sword, her mother's millet dumplings, and the family dog, but recruits two helpers-a pheasant and a monkey-along the way. Sierra's tale is a warrior tale without much war: the animals nip at the oni, causing them to hit each other, and Uriko's sword serves only to cut the ropes binding the children. This charming tale is perfect for reading aloud, and children will enjoy Meilo So's splashy, vibrant illustrations.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Some people may quake at the idea of giants kidnapping babies so that they can eat their belly buttons, but these things happen in Japanese folklore. This tale is a variation of "Momotaro," the tale of the boy born from a peach; in this story, it is a brave melon princess, Uriko, who uses her talents and her bravery to save the babies from the oni giants. She gradually collects animals to help her, luring them with millet dumplings. Throughout the narrative, Sierra incorporates descriptive sound words traditionally used in Japanese storytelling to draw readers into the action and uses just the right combination of droll and dramatic elements. An author's note explains how this story came to be. The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations, both detailed and fluid, are the perfect accompaniment to this deliciously scary adventure.-Carolyn Jenks, First Parish Unitarian Church, Portland, ME Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Christine Alfano
Courage, generosity, and wisdom are the winning qualities in Tasty Baby Belly Buttons, and author Judy Sierra provides plenty of humor to counteract the tale's grimmer elements. It is obvious that Sierra is a storyteller as well as a writer—throughout the book, she employs repeated sounds to draw listeners in, and to define the story's key moments and characters.
Riverbank Review
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by local versions of a popular Japanese folktale, Sierra (Antarctic Antics, 1998, etc.) recasts a yarn that usually stars Momotaro, or "Peach Boy," with a female lead. When giant, ogre-like oni take away all the village's babies to make snacks of their tasty navels, little Uriko-hime is left behind; she was born from a melon, and so has no belly button. Gathering up a small band of animal companions along the way, Uriko tricks the monsters into walloping themselves with clubs, and rescues the children, leaving delicious millet dumplings behind in consolation. Clad in a flowing, watermelon-colored kimono, Uriko makes a doughty heroine, equally skilled in cookery and swordplay; So's art has a traditional look, with theatrically gesturing figures, busy crowd scenes, and energetic brushwork. A vigorously told comic adventure. (Picture book/folklore. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679893691
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 3 months - 4 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.38 (w) x 10.38 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Judy Sierra was a puppeteer, a storyteller, and a professor of children's literature before becoming a full-time writer of children's books. She is the author of Antarctic Antics, Counting Crocodiles, Nursery Tales Around the World, and other highly acclaimed books. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Meilo So was born in Hong Kong. She attended secondary school and Brighton College of Art in Great Britain, returning to Hong Kong to begin her career. She is the illustrator of the award-winning The Beauty and the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom, selected by Jack Prelutsky. She now lives on the south coast of England.

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