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Erika-San Hardcover – January 26, 2009

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 540L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; 1st edition (January 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618889337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618889334
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 10.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With luminous watercolors and economical text, Caldecott Medalist Say (Grandfather's Journey) tells of an American girl whose ingenuous hopes of reaching old Japan are finally realized. The narrative starts off highly truncated: a single page is devoted to Erika's childhood fascination with a serene print of a Japanese teahouse in her grandmother's house; the next compresses middle school and... high school and all the way through college, after which she heads to Japan to teach. The pace changes, becoming almost folkloric as Say presents the country through Erika's eyes. Unable to remember her Japanese, she sees Tokyo as a hundred cities all crammed together and knows that she will not find her house there. After moving to and rejecting a second location (it's picture-pretty, but too noisy), she lands in the right spot. Say sprinkles Japanese words and definitions smoothly into the story as Erika surprises a male colleague (and readers) with the thoroughness with which she pursues her dream. Although the plot may prove slow going for many in the target audience, aficionados of Say's tranquil work will find both the message and the delivery deeply satisfying. Ages 5–8. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3–5—Say's exquisite paintings provide backdrop for a charming fairy tale with a contemporary, feminist twist. Here, it is a girl (read "princess") whose quest to find her heart's desire is at the core of the story. As a child, Erika becomes entranced with a painting on her grandmother's wall, depicting a small rustic house in Japan. Determined to find it, she prepares (in true fairy-tale fashion) for her journey, learning about the country and studying the language. Following college, she begins her search, and accepts a teaching assignment in Japan. Once there, it takes the proverbial three challenges before she finds success. Tokyo is too large, another (unnamed) city is too noisy, but in the third place—a small rural island community—Erika finds the house of her dreams, a welcoming class of children, and a "prince" named Aki to share her life. The house in the painting, she discovers, is a teahouse, where one day, kimono-clad, she happily performs a formal tea ceremony for Aki. Say's soft-colored paintings, detailed but not busy, contain just the right amount of nuance to build the story. He nicely contrasts the busyness of the cities with the verdant landscapes of the country, casting a happy-ever-after glow to the tale. More romantic and idealistic than many of Say's stories, Erika-San will find readers beyond the usual picture-book crowd.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Allen Say was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1937. He dreamed of becoming a cartoonist from the age of six, and, at age twelve, apprenticed himself to his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei. For the next four years, Say learned to draw and paint under the direction of Noro, who has remained Say's mentor. Say illustrated his first children's book -- published in 1972 -- in a photo studio between shooting assignments. For years, Say continued writing and illustrating children's books on a part-time basis. But in 1987, while illustrating THE BOY OF THE THREE-YEAR NAP (Caldecott Honor Medal), he recaptured the joy he had known as a boy working in his master's studio. It was then that Say decided to make a full commitment to doing what he loves best: writing and illustrating children's books. Since then, he has written and illustrated many books, including TREE OF CRANES and GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY, winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal. He is a full-time writer and illustrator living in Portland, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E Simpson on February 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Say has written and illustrated another fine book about America and Japan. In this book, a young girl yearns to live in a house like the one in a picture on the wall at her grandmother's. In a way, Erika wants to be Japanese. Erika studies Japanese, then travels to Japan, ending up in a remote village with a house like the one in the picture; here she feels a sense of peace and of being at home. Exquisite art really helps move the story and allow the reader to visualize what is not said in the words. Erika-San brings the circle begun in Grandfather's Journey to completion. The art and mood lighter and happier in Erika-san than in Grandfather's Journey; there is not a lingering doubt of where does Erika want to be, either on her part or the reader's part.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on August 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ever since that fateful day when Erika first saw her grandmother's framed print of a lovely Japanese cottage, Erika wanted to learn all about Japan. She loved hearing Japanese folktales at bedtime, she studied Japanese language from middle school through college, and she left for a teaching job in Tokyo immediately after her college graduation.

Unfortunately, Tokyo caught her by surprise with its enormity and complete lack of anything resembling that serene cottage from her grandmother's print. The employment agency had another job for her in a smaller city, but even there the hustle and bustle overwhelmed her. Only one other job opening remained, on a remote Japanese island. Could this be the place where Erika might feel at home?

Acclaimed author and illustrator Allen Say has created yet another outstanding picture book that bridges East and West. Interwoven into the storyline are some important ideas in economics related to immigration and jobs. The subtle text and gorgeous watercolor pictures may even leave the reader with a surprising urge to travel far away and bicycle through lush, green rice paddies.
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Format: Hardcover
Wonderful book for all ages(kids and adults) I'm from Japan, and this book captures true image of Japan. Say's beautiful water color illustration is stunning and brings me the memory of "Old traditional Japanese town" I love. The story started out a picture of a cottage from Japan. Erika loved it and dreamed going there. She studied Japanese all student years, and found a job in Japan after her graduate from collage. Not many people pursue their childhood dream, and this happy ending story would inspire many young readers who can dream, and actually make it happen. I also recommend this book to someone who interested in visiting Japan, to know there is still unchanged beautiful place in Japan where you don't find in ordinal travel guide book.
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Format: Hardcover
Allen Say has become one of my eight-year-old's favorite authors and she eagerly seeks his books out at the library. "Erika-San" is one of our favorites of his works. As a young child, Erika was fascinated by a picture of a little Japanese house hanging in her grandmother's house. When she discovers the picture is from Japan, Erika yearns to learn all she can about the country and this passion for Japan remains with Erika all through her school years. Upon graduation, Erika departs for Japan, where she has accepted a teaching position. Disillusioned with the teeming and bustling Tokyo, Erika decides to accept a teaching position on a remote island bordered by forests and hills.

Does Erika-san as she becomes known to her Japanese friends, find her little house in the country? The story captivated both me and my eight-year-old daughter, and the beautiful full page illustrations by Allen Say brought this beautiful, lyrical, and romantic tale to life for us. I heartily recommend Allen Say's works for anyone who loves well-written, beautifully-illustrated stories that speak to one's heart.
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