Book Review of 「みぢかなしぜん はな」 by Kanayo Sugiyama

Japanese Title: みぢかなしぜん はな
English Title: Familiar Flowers (Self-Translated)
Publisher: 教育画劇
Author: スギヤマ カナヨ
Photos:  大貫 茂

Overall Impression and Summary:

In a world full of false realities, it is nice to take a good look at the beautiful, real world around us. Looking at God’s beautiful creation of flowers and learning their names is a great way to get kids (and adults) excited to experience the world around them. This book features 59 big, gorgeous photos of beautiful flowers in Japan. When you stop to think that almost all the photos in this book were taken by one person (with the exception of 5 pages), you start to consider that maybe we should all take more time to stop and smell (and photograph) the roses every once in a while.Read More »


Book Review of 「ぞうくんの さんぽ」 by Hirotaka Nakano

Zoukun No Sanpo English Review

Japanese Title: ぞうくんの さんぽ
English Title: THE ELEPHANT HAPPY (Publisher’s Translation)
Publisher: 福音館書店
Author: なかの ひろたか
Illustrator: なかの ひろたか

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is a lovely, thick board book about an elephant inviting other animals to take a walk. First comes hippo, then comes alligator, and last comes turtle; they all hitch a ride on the elephant’s back and finally topple over into a pond. The animals’ faces remain almost the same throughout the book, which don’t look very happy to me, but kids will love the characters just the same. You can see some preview pictures for this at the publisher’s website by clicking on the book cover.Read More »

Book Review of 「はなさかじいさん」 by Yoko Imoto


Japanese Title: はなさかじいさん
English Title: Grandpa Flower Bloom (Publisher’s Translation)
Publisher: 岩崎書店

Author: いもとようこ
Illustrator: いもとようこ

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is one of my all-time favorite Japanese folk tales (mukashibanashi). Yoko Imoto does a splendid job illustrating the tale of the old man who makes flowers to grow on trees from ashes. While this is a children’s book, do keep in mind that some of the themes (and pictures) throughout are a bit on the dark side, so if you’re looking to avoid subjects like murder with your kids, you might not like this one. The last two pages of the book include lyrics and music for the classic song “Hanasakajijii.” They didn’t write out any guitar chords for you–just the right hand for piano. The lyrics to the song are slightly different than the contents of the book, because many details were changed to make it more appealing to toddlers.Read More »