The second heartfelt story of friendship and sisterhood in this charming new chapter book series, starring a Japanese-American girl!
It's a big weekend for Jasmine Toguchi! She's excited to celebrate Girl's Daya Japanese holiday honoring women and girlswith her sister, mother, and best friend, Linnie. On Friday after school, Linnie comes over to plan their outfits for the Girl's Day celebrations. And Jasmine's neighbor, Mrs. Reese, lets them search through her old clothes for the perfect accessories. But the clothes are in her dark garage, which is kind of scary. And Linnie decides to go home early, which is kind of weird. And Jasmine's big sister, Sophie, doesn't seem to want to join in the Girl's Day fun this year, which is kind of confusing. WHAT is going on?
As her big weekend plans start to unravel, Jasmine must use her sleuthing skills to spot the clues around herand within herself. Then maybe, just maybe, she can put everything back in order before Girl's Day is over!
About the Author
Debbi Michiko Florence is the author of nonfiction books for children in the Kaleidoscope Kids Series, China and Japan. She is a third generation Japanese American, and many of her ideas for the Jasmine Toguchi series come from family experiences. Debbi lives in Connecticut with her husband and their two ducks, Darcy and Lizzie. Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen and Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth is her fiction debut.
Elizabet Vukovic received her MFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. She specializes in children's book illustration, but enjoys experimenting with character design, concept art, fashion illustration, and decorative art. She currently resides in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Read an Excerpt
Bing bong bong bing!
Ms. Sanchez played the end-of-the-day song on her xylophone. It was time to clean up and get ready to go home. Normally I do not like to clean, but today was different. I was looking forward to the end of school.
Because I, Jasmine Toguchi, had big weekend plans!
I was excited for my best friend, Linnie Green, to come over to my house. Usually on Fridays, she walked home with her babysitter, Marcy. But Marcy, who is in high school, was sick. Hooray! Not that I wanted Marcy to be sick. That would be mean, and one of Mom's rules is to be nice. But this way Linnie could come to my house.
My classmates took out their notebooks. Normally after Ms. Sanchez played her end-of-the-day song, she gave us our homework assignment. I was the only person who did not take out her notebook, because I knew better.
Maggie Milsap raised her hand. "Ms. Sanchez! Jasmine doesn't have her notebook."
Everyone turned to look at me.
"Did you forget it, Jasmine?" Ms. Sanchez asked.
"No, Ms. Sanchez," I said. "It's in my desk."
Ms. Sanchez smiled. "Is there a reason you're not taking it out?"
"Yes," I said, "because you're not giving us homework."
"You aren't a mind reader," Maggie Milsap said.
"No," I said. "But when Ms. Sanchez is going to give us homework, she puts her blue notebook on the desk. When she isn't going to give us homework, she doesn't take out the blue notebook."
Ms. Sanchez nodded. "Jasmine has outstanding observation skills. She would make an excellent detective. Class, what does detective mean?"
Ms. Sanchez was sneaky, always finding ways to teach us stuff. Detective was one of our vocabulary words.
Hands shot in the air, including mine. Ms. Sanchez called on me and I answered. "A detective is someone who solves mysteries by using clues. Another word for detective is sleuth."
I tossed in the last part because I learned that from my mom. Mom is an editor, a person who helps writers with their words. Mom loves words like Ms. Sanchez loves books or music, and she's always sharing new words with me and my big sister, Sophie.
"Very good!" Ms. Sanchez said. "And Jasmine is right. Today there is no homework!"
Everyone cheered. I cheered extra-loud because this weekend was important. No homework meant free time for my big plans! Not only was Linnie sleeping over on Saturday, but we were celebrating Girl's Day together for the first time on Sunday!
MY BEST FRIEND, LINNIE GREEN
I pulled my purple backpack onto my shoulders and followed my classmates from room 5 out to the tree by the parking lot. That's where we waited every day to be picked up by our parents or guardians.
Even though the sun was shining, it was cold outside for March. Mrs. Reese, my neighbor, called winter in Los Angeles warm. She moved here from Vermont, where it snows a lot. I shivered just thinking about that.
Linnie came over to stand with me.
"What are you two doing this afternoon?" Ms. Sanchez asked us.
"Not homework," I said.
Ms. Sanchez laughed. "Yes, you are good at paying attention to clues. That's a great skill to have, Jasmine."
That made me feel warm and fizzy inside. "Maybe I will be a detective when I grow up," I said. I really wanted to have a flamingo farm, because flamingos are my favorite bird. But maybe I could do both.
"I'm spending the afternoon at Jasmine's house," Linnie said. "She's going to show me her special Girl's Day dolls."
"And Linnie is coming back to my house on Saturday for a sleepover," I said, grinning.
"That sounds like fun," Ms. Sanchez said.
"I'm so excited!" Linnie slipped her hand into mine and squeezed. "Sunday, March 3, is Girl's Day, a Japanese celebration for girls."
Linnie is not Japanese-American like I am, but because she is my very best friend, she knows stuff about me. Just like I know she celebrates Hanukkah instead of Christmas.
We weren't always best friends. When I started first grade, I didn't even know who Linnie Green was.
In class, we had to choose one thing to do a report on. I chose rocks. Another girl picked rocks, too. It was Linnie. And the teacher made us partners.
Every day at recess and every day after school, Linnie and I searched for rocks. We looked on the playground and we looked at the park. We looked in my backyard and we looked in her backyard. After five days, we had a big collection. We had smooth rocks and rough rocks, big stones and little pebbles, gray rocks and black rocks. One was pink and oval, like an egg.
When we showed our rocks to the class, the teacher gave us two smiley-face stickers for doing a great job. Even better, Linnie and I became best friends.
Linnie collects rocks, so I let her keep them. Whenever I see a pretty one, I give it to Linnie. The pink oval rock is her favorite of all. Sometimes she lets me hold it and pretend it is a flamingo egg.
"How wonderful that there's a special day for girls," Ms. Sanchez said.
"There's a different celebration for boys, too," I said. "But we don't have any boys in our family, except for my dad."
"Do you do anything special for Girl's Day?" Ms. Sanchez asked.
"Yes," I said. "We put out dolls of the Japanese imperial court, like the emperor and empress."
"And Jasmine gets to dress up in a kimono," Linnie said. "A kimono is a special Japanese outfit like a robe, but fancier and prettier."
"Well, I hope you girls have a wonderful celebration," Ms. Sanchez said.
"We will," I said. This was going to be the most wonderful weekend!
MRS. REESE'S GARAGE
When we got home, I took Linnie to the living room to see the imperial court.
She knelt in front of the doll display. "This is so cool," she said. "I love their fancy outfits."
Every year, Dad put the wooden steps together and covered them with red felt. Then Sophie and I helped Mom arrange the dolls. Except Mom was the only one allowed to touch the dolls because they were made out of ceramic. Also, they belong to Mom. But before they were hers, they belonged to Obaachan, my grandma. One day, those dolls would be Sophie's because she is the older daughter. But Mom promised she would buy me my very own set when I grew up.
I loved to watch Mom place hats on the heads of the dolls and fans in their hands. She slid swords under their arms. Then she carefully positioned each doll in its proper place. The dolls wore fancy kimonos made from silk.
Sophie and I arranged the less delicate things, like the trees and the trays with miniature bowls and cups. For some reason, Mom did not trust Sophie and me with the dolls. Maybe it was because when Sophie was seven and I was five, we once moved all the dolls to the floor so they could sit around the trees and have a picnic. Mom was not happy. At least we didn't break anything.
"That's the emperor and the empress on the top level," I explained to Linnie. "And those are the ladies of the court, the musicians, the ministers, and the guards." I pointed to each row.
"Their outfits are pretty," Linnie said. "I wish I could wear a kimono on Sunday, too."
One of Linnie's favorite things to do is play dress up. At her house, we put on her old Halloween costumes and pretend we live in a magical kingdom.
I smiled a secret smile. I didn't tell Linnie that Mom had a kimono for her to wear on Girl's Day. It was Sophie's old kimono she'd outgrown. I couldn't wait to surprise Linnie!
Until this year, we had only celebrated as a family. But Linnie is my very best friend, and I wanted to share this day with her. I was happy Mom let me invite her.
I sucked in a breath. I had another surprise for Linnie. "We can dress up in other clothes right now, if you want," I said.
"Really?" she asked.
"Really! My neighbor Mrs. Reese has boxes and boxes of clothes. She told me I could play with them anytime I want," I said.
Linnie clapped her hands. "Let's go!"
We raced from the living room to the kitchen. I just had to check in with Mom. "We're going to Mrs. Reese's to play in her garage," I said quickly.
"The clothes are in her garage?" Linnie asked.
Mom lifted a finger while she finished writing on a page. She worked part of her time at an office and part of her time at home. When she was done, she looked at her watch. "I'll call you back in an hour."
When I played at Mrs. Reese's, all Mom had to do was step outside and yell my name. The rule was that I had to come home right when she called for me. Sometimes I pretended not to hear her until she used my full name. When she called out Jasmine Toguchi, I knew she meant serious business.
"We don't have to go," Linnie said. "We can play in your room."
"Don't worry," I said. "An hour is plenty of time to play dress up!"
I took Linnie's hand and we walked two houses over to Mrs. Reese's.
Usually I climbed over the gate because it was fun, but Linnie didn't like to climb. She was afraid of falling. So I opened the gate to the backyard instead.
I glanced at the apricot tree. This was my special thinking tree. Mrs. Reese lets me climb it whenever I need a place to think. It would be fun to share it with Linnie, but like I said, Linnie does not like to climb.
Mrs. Reese's garage was special, too. I had the smallest room at our house, not that I minded a whole lot, but this garage was like a private room all my own. Mrs. Reese never opened the big door for cars. Around the side of the garage was a regular door.
"It's dark in there," Linnie said, twirling her finger around a strand of her brown hair.
The windows were dusty, but some light shone in. Towers of plastic boxes looked like trees in a forest. In the center of the garage, a giant dresser with four big drawers sat like a castle. I loved it in here!
I went into the garage and turned on the light. Linnie poked her head in. Ever since Mrs. Reese told me last month that I could play in here, I came every Saturday. I hadn't had a chance to open all the boxes yet, but I knew what was in the dresser. I tugged open the bottom drawer and pulled out a silver dress.
"Look, Linnie," I said, holding it up. "You can be a princess!" At her house, she was usually the princess and I was usually the knight.
She was in front of me in a flash. I helped Linnie put it on, and the short dress became a gown on her.
"Wowee zowee! You look fabulous!" I squealed.
"Ms. Sanchez said you'd make a good detective. Why don't you find the perfect private-eye outfit?" Linnie said.
"Good idea!" I agreed.
Linnie searched through the dresser for princess shoes while I walked to the back of the garage. I opened a box and shook out a cape. It wasn't a superhero cape in bright red, but a black cape, like a magician's. I tied it around my neck. Maybe I could find a wand and be a magical detective.
I dug in the box. Black boots. Green-and-red scarf. An explorer helmet with a light in front! I put that on even though it didn't match my cape. A detective needs a good flashlight anyhow.
At the very bottom of the box was a scarf made of pink feathers, like a flamingo! Flamingos are bright pink birds with long legs. Just looking at them makes me happy. Having my very own pet flamingo would make me happier. But Mom says flamingos belong in the wild and wouldn't make good pets. I think a flamingo would be perfectly happy living with me!
I wrapped the scarf around my neck. "Linnie," I called out. "I'm a magic exploring flamingo detective!" All good things.
Linnie peered around some boxes. "It's dark back here."
I waved her over. "There's plenty of light," I said. I tried to switch on the bulb on my hat but it didn't work. Too bad.
"Maybe we should go back to your house," she said in a quiet voice.
"But we're not done," I said. "There are more clothes we can try on!" I opened another box.
"Why does your neighbor have so many outfits?" Linnie asked.
"I don't know," I said. I never thought about asking her. "Maybe it's a secret!"
Linnie said, "Maybe she has a secret past!"
"Maybe she was a spy," I whispered. "And these were her disguises! Maybe she had to leave Vermont because her enemies were about to find out who she was!"
"That's so cool," Linnie said.
I tried to picture Mrs. Reese in the explorer's helmet I was wearing. Nope. Then I tried to picture her in the silvery dress. That was hard to imagine, too. And I have a very good imagination.
"I wish we could find out for sure," Linnie said.
I waved my cape. "I am a super sleuth. I will solve the mystery of Mrs. Reese's past!"
Suddenly, the garage turned darker.
Linnie moved closer to me. "I think it's time for us to go back to your house."
I shook my head. "It's not late. The sun just went behind some clouds. Let's look for clues!"
"If we hurry, can we go home soon?" Linnie asked.
"Definitely," I said as I opened a third box.
We searched through boxes and drawers, pulling out all sorts of things. I wasn't sure what kind of clue I was looking for, but I'd know it when I saw it.
"Jasmine!" Mom's voice came from outside. "It's time to come home!"
"Oh, Jasmine," Linnie said. "What a mess."
I looked around. Clothes and hats and purses and jewelry were scattered all over the place. Usually I do not mind a mess so much, but this was a real disaster.
"Oh, no," I said. "Mrs. Reese has a rule that I have to put everything away neatly."
"Jasmine!" Mom's voice got louder.
"I don't think we have time to put everything away," Linnie said.
"Jasmine! Come home!" Mom's voice was even louder now.
I knew one thing for sure: I did not want Mom to see this mess. She did not like messes.
"Let's go," Linnie said.
"I can't leave everything out," I said, hopping around, trying to shake out my nervousness.
"But your mom is calling," Linnie said.
"Quick," I said. "Just shove everything wherever it will go, out of sight."
I grabbed a bunch of clothes off the dresser and crammed them into a drawer. I pushed and pushed until the drawer shut. A piece of green dress poked out, but I did not have time to worry about that.
"Jasmine Toguchi!" Mom's voice was closer.
"Hurry, Linnie!" I shouted as I threw another handful of clothes into a box and slammed the lid down.
Linnie scooped up shoes and hats. I snatched off my costume, then helped Linnie take off hers. We stuffed them into the last box.
"Jasmine?" Mom opened the door.
"We're cleaning up, Mom," I said.
Mom squinted and looked around. I looked around, too. My heart rammed my ribs so hard it hurt my chest. Everything looked fine. No clothes or hats on the floor. The boxes were closed and stacked. I kicked a shoe under the dresser.
"Good job, girls," Mom said. "Now let's go. Linnie's mother will be here soon."
Linnie ran after my mom while I turned off the light. Everything looked okay, but I knew that inside the dresser and those boxes the clothes were a messy jumble. I thought about my promise to Mrs. Reese. My insides felt jumbled, too.
TOO OLD FOR DOLLS
On Saturday, I woke up to a delicious smell. I hopped out of bed and ran to the kitchen. Every weekend, we have family-time breakfast. Dad makes banana pancakes.
"Ohayo-gozai-masu!" I said good morning to Dad in Japanese. I didn't speak Japanese like my mom and dad, but I knew some words.
"Good morning, Jasmine," Dad said as he flipped a golden pancake.
Mom was pouring orange juice. Sophie, who was not a morning person, was slumped over in her chair. I used my observation skills and saw that her elbows were on the table. I nudged her as I sat down. Mom did not like elbows on the table. Sophie glared at me, but she sat up.
Dad taught history at a college. He said people could learn from history. History didn't always mean stuff from a long time ago, like before cars. History could be newer, too. Like how Sophie spilled orange juice last week when she bumped it with her elbow. Mom doesn't forget any kind of history easily. Sophie wasn't as good about remembering.
That reminded me of what I learned from my own history. One time, I promised Mom I would clean up after I made a collage in the kitchen. I make collages by cutting out pictures and words from magazines and gluing them onto cardboard. That time, I didn't clean up. I'm not allowed to make collages at the kitchen table anymore. What if Mrs. Reese found out I didn't clean up the clothes in the garage? Would she tell me I couldn't play in there anymore?
Suddenly, I wished it were a school-morning kind of breakfast. Those breakfasts were quick. I needed to get to Mrs. Reese's garage before she had a chance to check on it.
As soon as Mom and Dad sat down, I took my fork and speared a pancake off the serving platter. I smeared butter on top. I skipped the syrup.
"Ita-daki-masu," I said. It was what we said in Japanese before we ate. It meant thank you for the meal.
I shoved a big bite of pancake into my mouth and asked, "Can I go to Mrs. Reese's this morning?" But it sounded like "Dan I go to Mrtth. Reeth's dis morning?"
"Ew," Sophie said. "Say it, don't spray it."
Excerpted from "Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth"
Copyright © 2017 Debbi Michiko Florence.
Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Big Plans,
2. My Best Friend, Linnie Green,
3. Mrs. Reese's Garage,
4. Dressing Up,
5. Too Old for Dolls,
6. What a Mess,
7. A Lot of Problems,
8. Sleuthing for Clues,
9. A Discovery,
10. The Brave One,
11. Figuring It Out,
12. Happy Girl's Day,
13. Super Sleuth,
Origami Paper Doll,
Excerpt from Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen,
Also by Debbi Michiko Florence,
About the Author and Illustrator,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I adore this series so much. I'm learning so much about Japanese American traditions while enjoying a sweet and funny cast of characters. Looking for a fabulous chapter book series--this is the one!