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The Drums of Noto Hanto
     

The Drums of Noto Hanto

by J. Alison James, Tsukushi
 
J. Alison James is the author of two novels, Sing for a Gentle Rain, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ABA Pick of the Lists, and Runa, as well as the translator of more than seventy books for younger readers. She visited Noto Hanto and met descendants of the original villagers after hearing a taiko drumming group perform "go jinjyo daiko," which tells this

Overview

J. Alison James is the author of two novels, Sing for a Gentle Rain, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ABA Pick of the Lists, and Runa, as well as the translator of more than seventy books for younger readers. She visited Noto Hanto and met descendants of the original villagers after hearing a taiko drumming group perform "go jinjyo daiko," which tells this story using drums and masks, in Burlington, Vermont, near her home. Tsukushi is well known as an artist in her native Japan, where she has created three wordless books for adults: Roadmovie, Sentimental Journey, and Salaryman. The Drums of Noto Hanto marks the first appearance of her work in America, and is her first for children. She now lives in Riverdale, New York.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Strikingly handsome cut-paper illustrations, reminiscent of David Wisniewski's work, light up the pages of this dramatic picture book, based on a historical incident in ancient Japan. From the opening image of a drum that protrudes onto the spread as theatrically as the nearby isles erupting from the Sea of Japan, this tale will grab readers' attention. The villagers of Noto Hanto mark each change of season with the playing of the drums. But when a covetous warlord threatens to invade the town, the drums take on a new role. As samurai warriors approach, the villagers join forces to scare off their attackers with bonfires, monster masks fashioned from bark and seaweed, and drums that "boomed like thunder--DON kada DON kada DON DON DON!" James (Sing for a Gentle Rain) parades a series of verbal images as colorful as they are powerful (e.g., the village "points upward like a thumb into the Sea of Japan"), and her skillful use of onomatopoeia conveys the differing timbres and types of drums. The text exudes a palpable energy that will spark inspired read-aloud sessions. Tsukushi's artwork matches the intensity of the prose with fluidity of line and complexity of composition. A samurai battleship sails against a blood-red sky, masked villagers dance wildly by firelight and drummers sit in a circle concentric with the edge of the globe and the drum as they beat for their lives--the vividness of the spreads is nothing short of hypnotic. Wit triumphs over will in this splendid picture book. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carol Raker Collins
This is a dramatic recounting of the ancient story of how villagers of Noto Hanto, which juts over the Sea of Japan, saved themselves from being conquered by samurai sailors. The warlord Kenshin sent his soldiers to claim the riches of the coastal village--their rice crops, their fish, their men for soldiers. Though the villagers had only harvesting implements, the clever people managed to scare off the four attacking ships by setting fires on the beach below, wearing frightening handmade masks, and beating on all of their drums. The samurai never returned and the inhabitants of Noto Hanto have celebrated their ancestors' great victory each summer since 1576 by playing drums and wearing masks of bark and seaweed. Sounds of the many types of drums, from the tiki tiki tiki tiki of the metal bell to the DON DON DON of the huge Taiko drum, call out to be heard at storytime. This generously -sized book is uniquely illustrated with cutouts that use the lined and speckled textures of various colored papers to enhance the unusual oriental scenes. The masks (created by the village children) would be particularly interesting (and hopefully not too frightening) for youngsters.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-A simply yet powerfully told tale of underdogs who triumph not by brawn but by courage and ingenuity. In 1576, the people of Nabune, a prosperous village on the Noto Hanto peninsula in Japan, hear that the warlord Kenshin is coming with several shiploads of samurai to attack them. Having few weapons, they decide to try and trick their enemy. They gather all of the drums in the village, from the smallest to the giant Taiko, which takes eight men to play it. They build bonfires and make monster masks from bark and seaweed. When the ships approach the shore, the villagers don their masks, light their fires, beat their drums, and dance in a frenzy until at last the samurai sail away, never to return. The suspense that builds as the drums crescendo will have young listeners riveted. Tsukushi's cut-paper illustrations capture the time, place, and mood of the story. A unique and interesting tale.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On Noto Hanto, which points "upward like a thumb into the Sea of Japan," a wealthy coastal village is under threat from a warlord seeking riches. They have little in the way of weapons, but they do have their drums—drums of all sizes, usually played at each change of season. The children provide the idea of using terrifying masks to make the warlord, Kenshin, and his men "melt" in fear. The samurai arrive by boat, spotting gruesome monsters on shore and hearing the overwhelming noise of the drums; frightened by the spectacle, they never disembark. The people of Noto Hanto have celebrated this 1576 victory annually in a mask-wearing, drum-beating ceremony. At first glance, the colorful illustrations have the precision of computer-generated art, but they are actually scenes composed of meticulous cut-paper designs. The dimension and texture of these complement James's sound-effects-laden text; the suspense builds with each beat as the villagers fight to save Noto Hanto, and readers are certain to have the pounding of drums in their ears by the story's conclusion. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780789425744
Publisher:
DK Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
09/15/1999
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
9.33(w) x 12.33(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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