book review

Book Review | All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More

2:33 AM

A few months ago, I have decided to add Geography as an elective in our homeschool curriculum. 5-year-old Little V has been asking questions about the world and I thought it was time for us to feed his hungry brain. That time, I just ordered a geography book from US and I had at least a month to wait for it to arrive - we could have chosen a faster way to have it delivered but we need to be practical because international shipping fees can be costly.

While waiting for the book to arrive, I had an opportunity to be included as one of the reviewers of Tuttle Publishing's books. One of the books I recently reviewed is about the Philippines and you can read about my review here. I've decided to review the books on the Philippines, Japan, and China. And in the last few months, we have been reading about Japan. It took us forever to finish the book since we had a lot that had happened in our family life that homeschool took a back seat for a few weeks. So here I am finally had the time to write about our experience on the book, All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More.





The book was written by Willamarie Moore and illustrated by Kazumi Wilds. This award-winning book features Japan in a different light. Two children: a boy from the country and a girl from the city, take us on a tour to Japan's culture. The kids, 10-year-old Yuto and 12-year old Momoka show us their families, their homes, everyday lives, holidays, and games.


Contents


The book is divided into 4 segments: introduction to Japan, everyday life, holidays and celebrations, and language and culture.
Introduction to Japan (highlights)


  • The book illustrated the map of the country in an easy and kid-friendly approach. It was comprehensive but not overwhelming.

  • Readers are introduced to Cherry Blossoms. This is what my son (me and husband, too!) wanted to see for ourselves.

  • Learn about Haiku poems

  • Features some of the must-see places in Japan

  • Story on Japan's creation (myth)

  • A short narrative and illustration of Japan's history even young kids can understand


Everyday Life (highlights)
  • The kids Momoka and Yuto takes us into their homes and show us how their everyday lives are.

  • Proper way to use chopsticks and a few table manners

  • Recipes of Japanese food (Okonomiyaki and Onigiri)

  • We are introduced to Japanese sports and leisure


Holidays and Celebrations (highlights)
  • Monthly celebrations are illustrated

  • A look into Japanese New Year celebration

  • Recipe on Mochi rice flour cakes

  • How to create New Year's greeting post cards

  • Introduction to Children's Day

  • Origami: Samurai helmet

  • A Japanese folktale

  • A look into Japanese festival of souls


Language and Culture (highlights)
  • Illustration on how to do the  Bon dance performed at festivals

  • Teaches some Japanese words and their meanings

  • Origami: Frog (We made this!)

  • Introduction to Japanese writing (Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana)

  • Japanese old and new culture popular around the world

  • Japan's great performance art: Kabuki

  • Another Japanese folktale


First Impressions


I really liked that the book was hardbound. With young kids at home, we've wasted a number of softbound books because they easily get torn and dilapidated. Since this book aims to target families as audience, it is great that the books if of high quality, from cover to its pages.

Another thing that got me and the kids interested in the book are its beautiful illustrations. The jolly faces of kids on the book and the background for each page makes one look at it more closely. Most of the pages had colorful backgrounds instead of the usual white-page you see on books.


Lasting Impressions


Travelling to Japan has been a long-time dream of our family. Growing up knowing and loving animes, it just came natural for us to consider this country as one of the first we will visit with the kids. (Interesting fact: My husband and I named our kids from an anime show in the 90s). But since we don't have the budget yet, we'll settle for now with any opportunity we have to learn more about the Land of the Rising Sun.

We've watched several travel videos and NHK features through the years that I've thought I am already aware of what's to expect. I was wrong.

The spirit of the Japanese culture was clearly shown in this book specially the two kids who took us to their homes and everyday lives. The narration was clear and easy to understand even by young readers. My son had a great time learning about the kids from Japan and how similar and/or different their lives are from his. Through this book, he was able to see how kids are from other countries.

We also enjoyed the uncomplicated instructions on the recipes and Origami. For someone like me who's not good in folding papers, I had pleasure making paper frogs for the kids. Little V was also able to follow the instructions and made two paper frogs himself.

The illustration is highly-appropriate for children and those who don't enjoy reading long paragraphs. The passages were short and the words used were easy to understand even by a beginning or a non-speaking English reader. This for me is a plus since it takes into consideration other tourists who may want to learn about Japan but are having a hard time understanding the usual travel books you find on bookstores.

It was surprising that with this book of just about 60 pages, we were able to learn a lot about Japan, their traditions, and culture. It may have been just an introduction to their ways but it had substantial information perfect for families, most specially to those with young kids.

Overall, I am impressed with this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who'd like to discover Japan.


Book Facts:

Title: All About Japan Stories, Songs, Crafts and More

Available at: National Bookstore or through their website

SKU:9784805310779

Publisher: Tuttle Publishing

ISBN:9784805310779

Format:Hardcover

Date Published:03/10/2011

Illustrations:full-color illus throughout

Number of Pages:64

Trim Size:8 1/2 X 11








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