Willamarie Moore, illustrated by Kazumi Wilds,
All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More
Tuttle Publishing, 2011.
All About Japan presents an assorted array of information about Japan. It’s a good contemporary introduction to the country’s culture, language and lifestyles. There is a mix of the old (traditional festivals and folktales) and the new (anime and video games). The book begins with a greeting from two typical Japanese children – a girl, Momoka, the only child of a professor mother and a business man living in the city, and Yuto, a boy with two younger siblings living in the countryside with their parents and grandparents. The country of Japan is then presented through their eyes in a variety of sections entitled “Everyday Life,” “Holidays and Celebrations,” and “Language and Culture.” Song, stories, foods and crafts are all presented to inform readers about the country. The illustrations by Kazumi Wilds are colorful and accurate in their portrayals of contemporary Japan.
My only quibble with this book is that it presents a somewhat too uniform picture of a country that I know is less homogeneous than it appears to be on the surface. I would have liked to have seen mentioned the indigenous people of northern Japan (the Ainu), for example, and some mention also of the huge Korean diaspora (known in Japanese as Zainichi Kankokujin) that has been present in the country for over a century. Too often books about Japan pitched towards children neglect to mention these salient details of the country’s makeup. But this is an error of omission that might see change in future editions. This book is largely aimed at the North American reader, and it does a good job of presenting Japan in a general but engaging manner. As well, in the back are listed good resources for further study, many of them easy-to-consult websites. All About Japan is a highly interactive and fun way for children to learn about the country.