Book Review of 「つみきだいさくせん」 by Hiroyuki Arai

Japanese Title: つみきだいさくせん
English Title: Operation Rescue Blocks (Self-Translated)
新井洋行 (あらいひろゆき)
新井洋行 (あらいひろゆき)

Overall Impression and Summary:

Super cute book about a bunch of blocks working together to save a little block that is stuck up high on a dresser. Your kids will love the pull out page at the end that folds out to show the blocks finally reaching the poor, little crying block. There’s a great picture of this cute scene on the publisher’s website–click on the cover picture to see.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 「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 »

Book Review of 「いない いない ばあ」 by Miyoko Matsutani

6 Million+ Copies (As of 2017)

Japanese Title: いない いない ばあ
English Title: Peek-a-Boo
Publisher: 童心社
Author: 松谷 みよ子
Illustrator: 瀬川 康男

Overall Impression and Summary:

This is a straightforward peek-a-boo book that all kids are sure to love. Each animal covers their eyes on one page and then has outstretched arms with big, wide-open eyes on the next. The last two pages are a cute little girl named Non-chan, with cute, beady little eyes and a blue dress with stars. As with most all baby books, the genius is in the simplicity.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 »