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The Friends Hardcover – October 21, 1996


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Hardcover, October 21, 1996
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (October 21, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374324603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374324605
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,466,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In an eloquent initiation story that first touches and then pierces the heart, Japanese first-novelist Yumoto introduces three irresistible 12-year-old boys, whose fascination with death leads to an unexpected friendship. Chubby Yamashita, "four-eyed" Kawabe, and bean-pole Kiyama, the narrator, hear that the old man who lives by the calligraphy schools "will probably drop dead soon"; hoping to witness the event, the boys organize a daily lookout. Their spy mission backfires, however, when the old man, who seems to have plenty of energy, discovers their presence and solicits their help in doing chores. Hanging out the old man's laundry, weeding his yard and planting flowers may not have been part of the trio's plan, but these experiences fill a need in each boy's life. During the course of their relationship with the old man, Yamashita, Kawabe and Kiyama learn how to confront their fears and accept the inevitable. The passage of the time and the nature of mutability are poetically expressed in this warmly humorous narrative, deserving of equally high marks in kid appeal and literary merit. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5^-7. Outsiders at home and at school, Kiyama and his two awkward sixth-grade friends decide to spy on a solitary old man in their small Japanese town. They want to see what happens when he dies. For them, death is the stuff of nightmare and ghosts, a fearful unknown. At first, the old man is angry, but their attention revitalizes him, and he draws them into his home. Together they fix his house, clean up his yard, plant a garden, and every day after cram school, gather there. When he does die, there's no horror--only heartfelt grief and loving memories that give them strength to go on. The novel is long, sometimes slow-moving, and Kiyama's first-person narrative is too articulate about his fears and their resolution. But the translation from the Japanese is immediate, both lyrical and casual. The characters, including the old man, are subtly drawn. Readers will be moved by the terror of death, the bond across generations, and the struggle of those whom society labels losers. Hazel Rochman

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book was really interesting because kids my age wanted to learn more about death. The topic was one that I have never read about before in my life. I think that is why the story was so interesting to me. This book one of the best book I have ever read. Steven Yum, ASI
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book was really thought provoking and was put together very nicely. I would recommend this book to young adults and adults who are looking for a fast read. The author uses a great deal of descriptive words. He used similes one example of this is when the main character is looking at the ocean and the waves are coming in. He says that the waves are like the world breathing. I also like how the author shows you how the characters change over the course of the book. At the beginning they have no idea what death is about. They have never known anyone who has died. In the end you get to see how they have changed and it is amazing. There is not an apparent climax to this book. The book is told through the main character. This perspective adds to the book. You get to know exactly what he his thinking. Like I said before this book was thought provoking. Since this book is about death you wonder about death yourself. Is there life after death? No one knows the answer but after reading this book you might come to your own conclusions. If you are a person who likes action this is not the book for you. The end is apparent at the beginning of the book but something happens to the friendship of the boys. My overall impression of this book is good. I think you gain an understanding about how you feel about death. I know that my opinion about it has changes and some of my questions were answered.
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By A Customer on December 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book was really thought provoking and was put together very nicely. I would recommend this book to young adults and adults who are looking for a fast read. The author uses a great deal of descriptive words. He used similes one example of this is when the main character is looking at the ocean and the waves are coming in. He says that the waves are like the world breathing. I also like how the author shows you how the characters change over the course of the book. At the beginning they have no idea what death is about. They have never known anyone who has died. In the end you get to see how they have changed and it is amazing. There is not an apparent climax to this book. The book is told through the main character. This perspective adds to the book. You get to know exactly what he his thinking. Like I said before this book was thought provoking. Since this book is about death you wonder about death yourself. Is there life after death? No one knows the answer but after reading this book you might come to your own conclusions. If you are a person who likes action this is not the book for you. The end is apparent at the beginning of the book but something happens to the friendship of the boys. My overall impression of this book is good. I think you gain an understanding about how you feel about death. I know that my opinion about it has changes and some of my questions were answered.
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By K. Shanabarger on December 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this as part of a requirement for a college course on children's literature. It is a great story that teaches some great lessons about life and death.
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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Friends, by Kazumi Yumoto, is a book in which the characters have a wild imagination. This book is about three boys, who are all friends, who after one of the boys' experiences death become interested in that one topic. The three boys find an old house, which in it lives an old man, alone in that house. They think that he may die soon, and so they continuously come back to his house to watch him.
I would not recommend this book because it has a weird plot and what the characters do in the book is very strange because they are associated with death. Another reason I would not recommend this book is because the dialogue may be confusing to some readers, and there may also be too much dialogue that may bore readers.
A reader may disagree with me because they may enjoy reading a lot of dialogue, and when the dialogue may see to be confusing the reader may want to try and understand what the character means to say. My recommendation may not be good enough because readers may not know what I mean by too much dialogue: like is there just too much talking going on in the book, or does one character say too much alone in the book? I still think that people should not read this book because the topic may seem depressing to some people.
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