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 「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 »

Book Review of 「ぱん だいすき」 by Kiyoshi Soya

Japanese Title: ぱん だいすき
English Title: OUR FAVORITE BREADS (Publisher’s Translation)
Publisher: 福音館書店
Author: 征矢 清(そや きよし)
Illustrator: ふくしま あきえ

Overall Impression and Summary:

The pictures in this book are absolutely stunning. You can almost smell the bread as the author entices you with the various delicious breads typically sold in Japanese bakeries. The first two pages show a shot of the inside of a bakery and over 20 different kinds of bread for sale. The book is shown from the perspective of someone choosing which breads they will buy from a bakery. At the end of the book, they sit down at a perfectly set table to eat their selections. Because they don’t show you the person buying everything, it makes it that much easier to insert yourself into the story. Read More »

Book Review of 「おーくん おんぶ」 by Ken Katayama

Japanese Title: おーくん おんぶ
English Title: HE LOVES CARRYING STUFFED DOLLS ON HIS BACK (Publisher’s Translation)
Publisher: 福音館書店
Author: かたやま けん
Illustrator: かたやま けん

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is a really cute book. The story starts out with little Oh-kun asking his mom, “Oh-kun piggyback!” The mother misunderstands that he wants to be picked up, when in reality, he wants to pick up all his animals and put them on his back, but needs help to do so. The mom straps all the toys to his back and then he falls down. (The mom’s face is not shown in the book.) 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 »

Book Review of 「あかあかくろくろ」 by Akio Kashiwara

Aka Aka Kuro Kuro English Review

Japanese Title: あかあかくろくろ
English Title: Red, Red, White, White (Self-Translated)
Publisher: 学研

Author: 柏原 晃夫(かっしー)
柏原 晃夫(かっしー)

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is another great book that kids will love. The whole book is contrasting colors of red, white, and black with a few splashes of other colors thrown in. Supposedly this is easier for kids as young as 6 months to see well, but I can’t vouch as to whether that’s accurate or not. There are no all-out complete sentences in here, so if you’re looking for more grown-up stuff, this book isn’t the way to go. There’s not a whole lot of vocabulary to work with but I love the pictures. Read More »

Book Review of 「ころころまるちゃん どこ」 by La ZOO

Japanese Title: ころころまるちゃん どこ
English Title: Where Are You Little Rolly-Rolly Circles? (Self-Translated)
Publisher: 教育画劇

Author: La ZOO
Illustrator: La ZOO

Overall Impression and Summary:

“Where Are You Little Rolly-Rolly Circle(s)?” is another lovely book that has received lots of love in my house. Follow the cute little red and yellow circles as they turn into flowers, buttons, pig noses, fish, and more. Small kids will have a blast trying to “find” (they’re always in the same spot) the little circle friends. It’s not very long (20 pages), but it packs a lot into the few pages it’s got and is a great way to encourage kids who are just starting out with Japanese to get a feel for the language.Read More »

Book Review of 「おべんとうバス」 by Mariko Shinju

Japanese Title: おべんとうバス
English Title: Lunch Box Bus
Publisher: ひさかたチャイルド

Author: 真珠 まりこ (しんじゅ まりこ)
Illustrator: 真珠 まりこ (しんじゅ まりこ)

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is a sweet book about a bunch of food loading themselves onto a bus. The book provides great talking points and it’s fun to make a bunch of different voices for all the characters. Kids who are familiar with Japanese food are sure to love this one.Read More »