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Tomo: Friendship through Fiction: An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories Paperback – March 6, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"These stories truly surprised me with their depth, literary quality, and heart. I loved them all!" - Debbi Michiko Florence, author of Japan: A Kaleidoscope Kids Book

"As the winds blow through the tales and understanding blossoms in the lives of teenage protagonists, a real live vision of hope, peace and renewal is formed which brings a full circle to the meaning of 'Friend'...In this ripe time for healing just before the one year anniversary of 3/11/2011, make a new friend - the book called Tomo." - Japan Visitor

"There is plenty for adults to enjoy here, too." - JQ Magazine

About the Author

Holly Thompson ( is a longtime resident of Japan and author of the young adult verse novel Orchards (Delacorte/Random House, 2011), which was nominated for a 2012 YALSA/ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults award. She is also the author of the picture book The Wakame Gatherers (Shen’s Books, 2007) and the novel Ash (Stone Bridge Press, 2001). She is a regular contributor to the Double Take column of All Nippon Airway’s Wingspan magazine, and serves as Regional Advisor for the Tokyo chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She has taught creative and academic writing at Yokohama City University for many years and often gives presentations on writing craft. Visit her Hatbooks blog ( on writing, teaching, living and learning, mostly in Japan.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611720060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611720068
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,588,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Kamata on March 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Editor Holly Thompson and Stone Bridge Press pulled this collection of mostly original stories and translations together in less than a year, in time for the anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, but there is nothing slapdash about it. This is a book that will endure.

Thirty-six writers (plus 10 translators) contributed a dazzling variety of stories featuring ninja, scientists, baseball players, yokai (spirits), pop stars, Little-Bo-Beep-look-alike Harajuku girls, and ordinary kids. Interestingly, a lot of writers chose to write across gender.

It's impossible for me to choose a favorite, or even favorites, but I especially enjoyed Andrew Fukuda's "Lost," about an amnesiac girl post-earthquake; "Aftershocks" by Ann Slater, about the reverberations of the 3/11 disasters in a bicultural family in Tokyo; "Kodama," an illustrated story in notebook form by Debbie Ridpath Ohi; and "Fleecy Clouds" by Arie Nashiya. But ask me tomorrow, and I might name different stories. I enjoyed every single one.

The proceeds of this book will benefit teens in northeastern Japan who survived the earthquake and tsunami.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Perogies & Gyoza on March 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
This project, based a collection of young adult short stories, verse, and graphic stories, is very ambitious. It brings together well-known writers with those who are just starting out, and proceeds are benefiting the Japanese NPO, Hope for Tomorrow, which helps young entrepreneurs in Tohoku. The word tomo means friend in Japanese.

This book spans basically all the major genres of Japanese literature - from ninjas to ghosts to verse to blog posts and everything in between. You would think that a book that does that would be either academic and huge or completely haphazard. But somehow editor Holly Thompson has managed to put together a book that is not only very current but also unified despite the different styles. The threads of hope and bonds (kizuna) weave through the stories and the varying characters, tying them together without any repetition.

This is a young adult book, so naturally the pitter patter of young love is a constant theme and is described adeptly by Thersa Matsuura in The Zodiac Tree and Sarah Ogawa in One. The superstitions of Japan are illuminated well in The Ghost Who Came To Breakfast from Alan Gratz and Yamada-san's Toaster by Kelly Luce. Relationships between teens and their parents are convincingly portrayed in House of Trust by Sachiko Kashiwaba (translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa) and I Hate Harajuku Girls by Katrina Toshiko Grigg-Saito. Somehow, Debbie Ohi is able to pull in all of these elements in her handwritten (graphic?) story, Kodama, and it is extremely accessible due to the format (sketchbook entry).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linda Austin - MoonbridgeBooks on March 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Quite a variety of short stories meant for teens and about teens, but I liked them, too. There is something for everyone: a Tohoku earthquake survival story, a WWII internment camp baseball lesson, the toaster of death, a dream come true, bullies, a new love, an annoying "chanto shita" girl. Almost all stories are set in Japan and are flavored with Japanese words and phrases that would be fun to add to our vocabularies. There are a few translated legends that Western ears may find awkward, but the stories of Japanese "yokai" spirits are fun. Debbie Ridpath Ohi's spooky story literally makes an impression as an illustrated journal reminiscent of the younger crowd's Amelia's Notebook series by Marissa Moss, and Tak Toyoshima's thoughtful graphic novel short pops. Holly Thompson has put together a delightful potpourri made all the better by its benefit for teens affected by the 2011 disaster in Japan. See also 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake for another book benefiting disaster victims.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tenki Davis on April 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hats off to Holly Thompson for conceiving the idea and then implementing it in this wonderful anthology. Great stories. I hope that it will be a huge success for the young people affected by the quake and tsunami in Tohoku. Congratulations! Tenki Davis

Tomo: Friendship through Fiction: An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories
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Format: Paperback
Tomo is a charity anthology (in the wake of the recent tsunami) that brings together a wide range of voices writing about young people related to Japan in some way. Japanese, ex-pat, male, female, young, old, professional and amateur; the authors of this anthology represent a varied array of experiences with disasters, youth, and Japan.

Holly Thompson, whom I know from the fabulous children's book, "Wakame Gatherers" (which never fails to make me cry when I read it) edited the anthology.

It's well worth reading. There are "slice of life" stories along with stories of the fantastic, folktales. classics (Kenji Miyazawa), manga, and poetry.

You won't get bored.

The story opens with Andrew Fukuda's "Lost", about a girl awakening after a disaster who has lost her memory and must start over.

But it is the last stories of the anthology (in the section titled "Families and Connections") that resonated with me the most. (No surprise as I am married to a Tokyo boy and have two bicultural/biracial daughters forming their own identities in the US).

"The Law of Gravity" by Yuko Katakawa and translated by Deborah Iwabuchi features the voice of a young Japanese man, Kai, who is questioning the "perfect son" role he has played all his life for his parents; who all but ignore his little sister, Maika. It is Maika who ends up giving Kai a reason for continuing, and it is in their relationship that I find a bitter hope; parents can never really know the life of their children, but siblings can sometimes be the greatest support to eachother.

"Paper Lanterns" by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill uses the conceit of a dead friend who accompanies a haafu (biracial) girl to visit her grandparents in Japan to be the voice of the "clueless foreigner.
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