Book Review of 「うんどうの絵本 – かけっこ」 by Akane Shobo Publishing

Japanese Title: うんどうの絵本 – かけっこ
English Title: Exercise Picture Book: The Race (Self-Translated)
Publisher: あかね書房
Editor: 西薗 一也(にしぞの かずや)
Illustrator: 左藤 芳美(さとう よしみ)


Overall Impression and Summary:

This book is sure to please your elementary school boys out there. The story is told from the perspective of a boy named Kakeru at his school’s Sport’s Festival when his turn comes to race. Once the story starts with Kakeru standing there, nervous, and sweating, ready to run the race, the reader is taken through a series of flashbacks which show all the work he had to do to prepare for the moment. The book transitions from flashback to the real race back to flashback until the end of the race. I love that they tell kids to keep running their best until the very end of the race no matter what. The book has lots and lots of tips for young runners to make sure they don’t hurt themselves while racing. Some of the tips made me laugh like “using your bum to walk” (おしり歩き), which entails sitting on the floor and then using your bum muscles to “walk” ahead.Read More »


Book Review of 「かさ さしてあげるね」 by Setsuko Hasegawa

Under the Umbrellas Book Cover

Japanese Title: かさ さしてあげるね
English Title: UNDER THE UMBRELLA… (Publisher’s Translation)
Publisher: 福音館書店
Author: はせがわ せつこ
Illustrator:にしまき かやこ

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is an adorable story about a little boy who walks through the rain giving umbrellas of various sizes to the animals getting rained on. The last two pages have no text–just animals basking in the rays of the sun. You can see a preview of the inside pages by clicking on the book cover.Read More »

Book Review of 「きょうの おやつは」 by Chinatsu Watanabe


Japanese Title: きょうの おやつは
English Title: It’s Snack Time –Mirror Reflection Makes a Story– (Publisher’s Translation)

Publisher: 福音館書店
Author: わたなべ ちなつ
Illustrator: わたなべ ちなつ

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is a fun mirror book about making pancakes. They have it set up so that some of the objects on the mirror are static (printed over the mirror), which is a really cool idea and adds a new dimension to the book. When you hold the book just right, it actually looks like the egg is falling into a 3-dimensional bowl and it actually looks like the pancake batter is falling into a 3-dimensional skillet. I love the picture of cat smelling the delicious aroma of the pancakes cooking. The publisher’s site has some pictures of the inside–click the book cover to see.Read More »

Book Review of 「かじをけす じどうしゃ」 by Mamoru Suzuki

Japanese Title: かじをけす じどうしゃ
English Title: Fire Extinguishing Vehicles (Self-Translated)
Publisher: 金の星社

Author: 鈴木まもる
Illustrator: 鈴木まもる

Overall Impression and Summary:

I loved the cover on this book when I saw it in the library. This is a great book for boys. It’s got lots of vocation specific vocabulary for firefighting that will leave you feeling like an expert. The story starts out with a little boy calling 119 (the fire department) to report a fire, which spreads and spreads. The book is filled with adventure that makes children wonder, “What will become of the fire?” “What vehicle will appear to help next?”Read More »

Review of 「こぐまちゃんと ぼーる」 by Ken Wakayama


Japanese Title: こぐまちゃんと ぼーる
English Title: Little Bear and a Ball (Self-Translated)
Publisher: こぐま社
Author: わかやま けん、もり ひさし、わだ よしおみ
Illustrator: わかやま けん

Overall Impression and Summary:

Another great book by Koguma Publishing. Follow Little Bear as she throws around her cute orange ball. Filled with lots of enthusiasm, she accidentally tosses it far away and then can’t find it. Children are sure to relate to poor Little Bear as she cries in dismay. This book is a great way to take kids through the emotions of losing something you love and the happy ending makes this a classic book the whole family will enjoy reading again and again.Read More »

Review of 「ちいさな き」 by Toshiko Kanzawa


Japanese Title: ちいさな き
English Title: LITTLE TREES (Publisher’s Translation)
Publisher: 福音館書店
Author: 神沢 利子(かんざわ としこ)
Illustrator: 高森 登志夫(たかもり としお)

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is a beautiful picture book that shows children how the little trees on the ground are really baby trees that originated from the big trees. I love the vibrant colors showing the changes of the seasons and the simple, repetitive dialogue that takes place between the narrator and the trees. One aspect of the story is finding the “hidden” baby trees among the other plants. The page with the little birch trees could be a bit challenging for small kids since there are quite a few plants on the page, but the other pages are pretty straightforward. The book retains an almost poetic tone throughout and is a pleasure to read.Read More »

Book Review of 「じゃあじゃあ びりびり」 by Noriko Matsui

2 Million+ Copies (As of 2015)

Japanese Title: じゃあじゃあ びりびり
English Title: Gush, Gush, Rip, Rip (Self-Translated)
Publisher: 偕成社
Author: まつい のりこ
Illustrator: まつい のりこ

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is an excellent book for babies that relates familiar things with the sounds they make. Babies will be thrilled to hear the sound that relates to animals, railroad crossings, babies, and more. The book starts out with space for you to write “This book belongs to _____” and ends with the back cover saying, “The end. See you again.” As always, the beauty is in the simplicity.Read More »