Book Review of 「生き物たちの冬ごし図鑑 昆虫」 by CHOUBUNSHA PUBLISHING

Japanese Title: 生き物たちの冬ごし図鑑 昆虫(いきものたちのふゆごしずかん こんちゅう)
English Title: Wintering Creatures Illustrated Reference Book – Insects (Self-Translated)
星 輝行

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is a fantastic little reference book for learning about some of the bugs you see around you while living in Japan. You’ll learn specific names for various butterflies, moths, mantises, and many more. It’s really fascinating to learn what bugs are up to during the winter months. Everything is put together really well to help you take it all in. The life cycle of each bug is laid out in an easy-to-understand format and you can feel the author’s enthusiasm for bugs on every page.Read More »


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 »

Book Review of 「とりをよぼう!」 by Hisakata Child

Japanese Title: とりをよぼう!
English Title: Let’s Call the Birds (Self-Translated)
Publisher: ひさかたチャイルド
Editor: おおくぼ しげのり
Photos: 川又利彦 榎本功
Illustrator: ひや まゆみ

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is an amazingly well put together book that teaches kids how to feed birds in their backyard (or on the veranda). The photos are absolutely stunning and the editor went to great lengths to make sure each page is perfect. The book shows you all the birds that most commonly show up to eat and the different foods you can use to attract them. I love the photo of the little boy in the beginning of the book with his big, bright smile ready to feed the birds. Very cute. Toward the end of the book, they show you all the birds seen at the bird feeder and a few more. They adjusted each bird’s photo so you can see the difference in size, which is really nice.Read More »

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 「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 »