Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village

Overview

2012 Creative Child Magazine Book of the Year Award Winner!
Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll, a gorgeous book by author/illustrator Sunny Seki, takes readers on a journey into ancient Japan and the story behind the famous Daruma Doll.

Yuko-chan, an adventurous blind orphan, is able to do amazing things. She confronts a temple burglar in the dead of night, and crosses treacherous mountain passes to deliver food to hungry people. During her travels,...

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Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who saves Her Village

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Overview

2012 Creative Child Magazine Book of the Year Award Winner!
Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll, a gorgeous book by author/illustrator Sunny Seki, takes readers on a journey into ancient Japan and the story behind the famous Daruma Doll.

Yuko-chan, an adventurous blind orphan, is able to do amazing things. She confronts a temple burglar in the dead of night, and crosses treacherous mountain passes to deliver food to hungry people. During her travels, Yuko-chan trips and tumbles down a snowy cliff. She discovers a strange thing as she waits for help: her tea gourd, regardless of how she drops it, always lands right-side-up. The tea has frozen in the bottom of the gourd! Inspired by this, she creates the famous Daruma doll toy, which rights itself when tipped—a true symbol of resilience.

Thanks to Yuko-chan's invention, the villagers are able to earn a living and feed themselves by selling the dolls. Yuko-chan never gave up, no matter the obstacles she faced, and the Daruma doll is a charming reminder of the power of perseverance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seki’s (The Last Kappa of Old Japan) friendly illustrations supply a wealth of visual information about pre-WWII rural Japan, showing farmhouse interiors, a temple with a rock garden and a schoolroom, and a village festival. His story is a character-building tale about an orphan girl named Yuko, whose blindness doesn’t prevent her from participating fully in village life. (Shown with closed eyes, tapping along with a cane, she may be perceived as a bit of a caricature.) Lost in the snow one winter day, she realizes that the tea frozen in the bottom of her tea gourd makes the gourd reorient itself when it’s knocked over, reminding her of the Buddhist teacher Daruma and his encouraging words: “If you fall down seven times, you should get up eight times!” Sales of the Daruma doll she designs save her village, whose crops have been ruined by a volcanic eruption. With Japanese text that parallels the English on every page, this is likely to find its most enthusiastic audience among students of Japanese language or culture. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"This Japanese folk tale tells the story of how a blind Japanese girl came up with the idea for the Daruma doll, and saved her village in the process."—PragmaticMom.com

"Daruma dolls are traditional Japanese talismans of good luck and resilience, often given as a gift to encourage the recipient to persevere in reaching a personal goal. The heartening sentiment behind them is expressed in this story...Brilliantly colored and delightfully detailed illustrations are the true highlight here. The use of bold line gives the impression of woodblock prints and cleverly echoes the broad paint strokes that decorate Daruma dolls. Pages are attractively laid out, and characters' faces are expressive and slightly cartoonish, holding great appeal for young audiences."—School Library Journal

"Seki's friendly illustrations supply a wealth of visual information about pre-WWII rural Japan, showing farmhouse interiors, a temple with a rock garden and a schoolroom, and a village festival. His story is a character-building tale about an orphan girl named Yuko, whose blindness doesn't prevent her from participating fully in village life. Lost in the snow one winter day, she realizes that the tea frozen in the bottom of her tea gourd makes the gourd reorient itself when it's knocked over, reminding her of the Buddhist teacher Daruma and his encouraging words: "If you fall down seven times, you should get up eight times!" Sales of the Daruma doll she designs save her village, whose crops have been ruined by a volcanic eruption. With Japanese text that parallels the English on every page, this is likely to find its most enthusiastic audience among students of Japanese language or culture."—Publishers Weekly

"Their crops devastated by a volcano, the villagers of Takasaki struggle to recover until Yuko-chan, an orphaned blind girl, envisions a way they can recover. After an accident, she tips over her gourd of tea, but the frozen tea always returns it upright, reminding her of Daruma's maxim that "If you fall down seven times, you should get up eight times." Yuko-chan suggests that the town make "Daruma Dolls" from gourds and sell them, a craft that saved Takasaki and continues to this day. [...] Cartoon-style art features bright colors and pictures filled with traditional Japanese activity. An attractive glimpse of Buddhist images and ideas, this original story fills a unique niche for libraries."—Booklist

"Award-winning author-illustrator Sunny Seki brings the feisty and adorable Yuko-chan vividly to life in word and image. He captures the simple beauties of nature and the rustic built environment of the time as well. A Japanese translation follows the English text on each page, with hiragana (phonetic) symbols printed in superscript so novice Japanese readers can more easily follow the story. The back matter gives additional information about Daruma and the Daruma doll tradition. Tuttle's expert design and high production quality further enhance the experience of Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll. Its impact will deepen with repeated reading."—PaperTigers.org

"It's a lovely book that is wonderful to read again and again. It teaches wonderful lessons about being resourceful and brave. It is well told and entertaining. I love the positive story, the beautiful illustrations, and the introduction to some aspects of Japanese culture. At the end of the book there is a list of cultural notes that defines Daruma, Daruma Doll, the Daruma Doll Festival, Daruma Games, and Gourds."—The Picture Book Review

"Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll emphasizes cooperation, altruism, and the importance of community. Entertaining as a story, Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll also offers adults opportunities for positive interaction with kids, discussing ideas in the book and how they relate to everyone's life."—Bob on Books

"Seki tells us not only a beautiful story, but on every page he has richly painted images of Yuko-Chan, her Daruma Dolls, and her village that bring the words—both in English and in Japanese—to life."—Story Circle Book Reviews

From the Publisher
"Daruma dolls are traditional Japanese talismans of good luck and resilience, often given as a gift to encourage the recipient to persevere in reaching a personal goal. The heartening sentiment behind them is expressed in this story. Yuko overcomes her disability to invent the Daruma doll, inspired by the founder of Zen Buddhism, and rescues her village from poverty through sales of the popular souvenirs. Although parts of the story are based on fact and well-known legend, Yuko's role is completely invented for this book, so readers seeking a traditional tale need to look elsewhere. For those simply wanting an uplifting story that includes elements of Japanese culture, however, this book fits the bill. Children with disabilities will appreciate Yuko, as her cleverness and resourcefulness outshine her physical limitations…Brilliantly colored and delightfully detailed illustrations are the true highlight here. The use of bold line gives the impression of woodblock prints and cleverly echoes the broad paint strokes that decorate Daruma dolls. Pages are attractively laid out, and characters' faces are expressive and slightly cartoonish, holding great appeal for young audiences."—School Library Journal
"Seki's friendly illustrations supply a wealth of visual information about pre-WWII rural Japan, showing farmhouse interiors, a temple with a rock garden and a schoolroom, and a village festival. His story is a character-building tale about an orphan girl named Yuko, whose blindness doesn't prevent her from participating fully in village life. Lost in the snow one winter day, she realizes that the tea frozen in the bottom of her tea gourd makes the gourd reorient itself when it's knocked over, reminding her of the Buddhist teacher Daruma and his encouraging words: "If you fall down seven times, you should get up eight times!" Sales of the Daruma doll she designs save her village, whose crops have been ruined by a volcanic eruption. With Japanese text that parallels the English on every page, this is likely to find its most enthusiastic audience among students of Japanese language or culture."—Publishers Weekly

"Their crops devastated by a volcano, the villagers of Takasaki struggle to recover until Yuko-chan, an orphaned blind girl, envisions a way they can recover. After an accident, she tips over her gourd of tea, but the frozen tea always returns it upright, reminding her of Daruma's maxim that "If you fall down seven times, you should get up eight times." Yuko-chan suggests that the town make "Daruma Dolls" from gourds and sell them, a craft that saved Takasaki and continues to this day. […] Cartoon-style art features bright colors and pictures filled with traditional Japanese activity. An attractive glimpse of Buddhist images and ideas, this original story fills a unique niche for libraries."—Booklist

"Award-winning author-illustrator Sunny Seki brings the feisty and adorable Yuko-chan vividly to life in word and image. He captures the simple beauties of nature and the rustic built environment of the time as well. A Japanese translation follows the English text on each page, with hiragana (phonetic) symbols printed in superscript so novice Japanese readers can more easily follow the story. The back matter gives additional information about Daruma and the Daruma doll tradition. Tuttle's expert design and high production quality further enhance the experience of Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll. Its impact will deepen with repeated reading."—PaperTigers.org

School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Daruma dolls are traditional Japanese talismans of good luck and resilience, often given as a gift to encourage the recipient to persevere in reaching a personal goal. The heartening sentiment behind them is expressed in this story. Yuko overcomes her disability to invent the Daruma doll, inspired by the founder of Zen Buddhism, and rescues her village from poverty through sales of the popular souvenirs. Although parts of the story are based on fact and well-known legend, Yuko's role is completely invented for this book, so readers seeking a traditional tale need to look elsewhere. For those simply wanting an uplifting story that includes elements of Japanese culture, however, this book fits the bill. Children with disabilities will appreciate Yuko, as her cleverness and resourcefulness outshine her physical limitations. Presented in both English and Japanese, the text is occasionally clumsy, but the story is pleasant enough. Some unexplained cultural references might puzzle readers unfamiliar with Japan, and the section of cultural notes would have been more useful within the narrative rather than in an afterword. Brilliantly colored and delightfully detailed illustrations are the true highlight here. The use of bold line gives the impression of woodblock prints and cleverly echoes the broad paint strokes that decorate Daruma dolls. Pages are attractively laid out, and characters' faces are expressive and slightly cartoonish, holding great appeal for young audiences.—Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784805311875
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/10/2012
  • Edition description: Hardcover with Jacket
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 744,950
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sunny Seki is the award-winning author and illustrator of The Last Kappa of Old Japan and The Tale of the Lucky Cat. A native of Japan, Sunny studied illustration at Pasadena Art Center of Design. Sunny, his wife Judy and their nine children live in San Gabriel, CA.

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  • Posted March 7, 2012

    An inspiring work of Art and Great Storytelling...plus it's Bilingual!

    Sunny Seki has done it again! This is his 3rd children's book that I have now, and I am continually impressed! The kids love his series of Japanese folktales and especially the detailed, bright, and adorable illustrations! This is an inspiring story about the compassion, courage, and cleverness of a little girl who saves her village! The story also gives the history of the little red Daruma dolls that I saw around Japan and in stores. Also, if you are trying to learn or teach Japanese and English, this book is great because it has both languages on the same page. I highly recommend it!

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