…For full text of the review, please scroll to bottom of post…
Thanks to the International Board on Books for Young People, or IBBY, and reviewer Anna Warren, for this ace review of Takeshita Demons.
“…exactly the kind of story the children in my class would love…”
“The pace is just right, and the language is accessible.”
“It’s great reading a children’s book that includes aspects of Japanese culture.”
(I only wish they had got my name right (Cristy Burne not Cristy Burns) because when you Google Cristy Burns or Christie Burns you get models, musicians and Facebook pages, but not authors. I include this note in the hope that Google will realise and amend.)(Please?)
This well-written book is exactly the kind of story the children in my class would love. I teach Year 4. I am taking the same set of children up to Year 5 in September and will definitely use Takeshita Demons as a class-focus text. I have already taught a unit on Japan, with captured their imagination.
This story contains all the basic elements that children aged 8-10 would find engaging: a familiar school setting, a child they can identify with, but with the added surprise interest of a Japanese cut-throat demon! The pace is just right, and the language is accessible. All the Japanese language references are correct, and the author has backed them up with translations that flow with the narrative. There seems to be more Japanese at the beginning of the story, which tends to tail off towards the end as the action picks up. The book initially reminded me of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, a link which children are likely to make. The children in my class will love the simple, graphic manga-style illustrations in the book. The illustrations definitely add an extra appeal. I also like the fact that the author has included appendices explaining the history of Japanese demons, as well as the kanji characters.
It’s great reading a children’s book that includes aspects of Japanese culture. This is something I’ve not come across before. I think the author has done a brilliant job of referencing all the relevant cultural traditions, such as taking shoes off when entering a Japanese person’s home.
What I thought was very interesting was the reference to Japanese people preferring not to make big displays of affection like hugging (p.59). However, as a Japanese family, the Takeshitas are not pigeonholed. They are as happy eating pizza as they are tempura or noodles.
Anna Warren (Primary school teacher and graduate of Japanese)
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