When I was in Japanese school in Canada, our class did a skit of the story of the giant turnip — Ooki na Kabu (The Giant Turnip). This story, based on a Russian folktale, is a classic, often performed by Japanese children in schools. The story is about a giant turnip that is so big that everyone in the village tries to pull it out. When our class did it, we used a bean bag with a white sheet covered over it and the boy playing the role of the turnip sat inside it, uttering his lines from underneath the sheet. It was a lot of fun.
Lately, a mother from the volunteer reading group I attend here, showed me the book of the play we’d performed, The Turnip (retold by Kimiko Saito, illustrated by Kaoru Ohno), alongside a number of similar bilingual Japanese picture books with CD published by a company called Labo Kyoiku Centre. She had gotten them out from her local library. The text was in English (all the books were translated by Sarah Ann Nishie). Some other notable titles she showed me were A Mongolian Folktale: Sukh’s White Horse retold by Yuzo Otsuka, illustrated by Suekichi Akaba, (published in English as Suho’s White Horse – see Marjorie’s recent Books at Bedtime post) and The Ocean Going Orchestra by Yuzo Otsuka, illustrated by Jun Maruki. The website pages for the books contain audio clips of the CD in which the tales are read both in English and Japanese. These are good books for bilingual education and a great resource. I was very happy to see a number of my favorite Japanese children’s book author, Kenji Miyazawa’s books available in this bilingual CD format on the website. Hope you can seek them out wherever you are!