From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3--Gregory lives in California with his parents. Suddenly his Japanese-born father announces that he is being transferred to Tokyo and they will be leaving shortly. They pack up and move and Gregory learns that the language, money, food, and traffic flow are all different. Every time he remarks on the strangeness of things, his father says, "That's the way we do it in Japan." The child has the usual fears about going to a new school, understanding the work, and making friends. He feels out of place with his peanut-butter sandwich when everyone else eats the school-supplied fish, rice, and soup. He dislikes the idea of fish, but on the day he decides to try it, they are serving PB & J sandwiches and the children announce, "Amerikawa sugoi" (America is wonderful). Large, colorful illustrations with realistically drawn children add to the appeal of the story. However, some of the "way we do it-" elements are a bit stereotypical of the traditional way of Japanese life. Contemporary children of Gregory's age mostly now sleep in beds and sit at tables, but that does not detract from this story, which tries to emphasize cultural differences while including social similarities. This friendly story of acceptance in a new situation will also serve as a good introduction to children learning about this culture.
Nancy A. Gifford, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Ages 5-8. Gregory lives in San Francisco with his American mother and Japanese father until his father's job takes them all to Japan. Gregory's experiences in his new home and school provide children with an introduction to Japanese customs and lifestyle. More important than the cultural differences, however, is Gregory's positive reaction to the changes. For example, when Gregory's dad tells him that people in Japan sleep on the floor instead of beds, Gregory responds with an enthusiastic, "Wow! That'll be just like camping!" Billin-Frye's engaging watercolors complement the encouraging tone of the text by featuring characters with pleasant facial expressions and body language, and placing Gregory in surroundings that are attractive and will seem familiar to listeners. Numerous Japanese phrases, with pronunciations and translations included, are sprinkled throughout the story. Use this to introduce a unit on Japan or to increase awareness of the Japanese culture. Lauren Peterson
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