PreS-Gr 1—Traditional Japanese wooden Kokeshi dolls and their fashions are the stars of this adorable look-and-find book. Drawn in a Hello Kitty-esque style, the dolls' cylindrical figures are swathed in patterned kimonos, and their large, round heads are adorned by all manner of hair bows and hats. Amid cheerful text about clothing, hairstyles, and accessories, young readers are invited to look for small details in the illustrations and play visual games like matching patterns and shapes. Sharp-eyed children will enjoy poring over the pages again and again. Scenes that evoke everyday life in Japan, such as high-density apartment balconies and a shared bath, add delightfully authentic cultural texture, while lift-the-flap and die-cut panels enhance the book's interactivity. Japanese words in both the Roman alphabet and Japanese characters are smoothly integrated into the text and images, introducing children to the look and sound of the language. Although charming, this book is not ideal for language study, as the text adds plural forms that do not exist in Japanese. Also, the Japanese word for a light summer robe, yukata, appears twice as yukuta. Although these issues detract from the book's validity as an educational resource, its enchanting visual appeal is not diminished in the least. Sure to elicit a squeal of delight from devotees of all things cute.—Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA
Kokeshi, northern Japanese wooden folk dolls, are painted with differently designed kimonos that denote the area in which they are made and form the inspiration for this pretty novelty.
The kimonos in this title are shown on "creative" (non-traditional) Kokeshi that have evolved from their origins as stickers in France. (Their images are also produced on notecards and journals.) A stilted text, translated from French, accompanies these commercialized, cartoon-like images. The glossy, heavy stock, saturated with a sophisticated palette of black, brown, maroon, bluish-gray and green, teems with kawaii kokeshi— "super cute little wooden dolls"—who talk and act like contemporary little girls. Readers are invited to find the right sash, fan and hair bow to match Kimiyo's outfit. They locate Yumi's apartment by lifting the flap that matches her sash. A large gate-fold page reveals Yumi's family members and another game that involves matching designs to determine her maternal and paternal families. A schoolroom scene shows the days of the week, both in transliteration and in Japanese characters. There are more words to learn when a star (hoshi), a rabbit (usagi) and a pair of socks (tabi), among other objects, serve as inspiration for funny hairstyles that appear when a die-cut page turns.
Trite, but very attractively presented, this gift book will charm some little girls and easily teach them snippets of Japanese while engaging them in recognizing unusual patterns. (Picture book. 4-6)