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Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village Hardcover – March 10, 2012


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Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village + Red Matryoshka Daruma Nesting Doll #MD3/R + Daruma Doll Paper-mache 3.75"tall
Price for all three: $36.54

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Hardcover with Jacket edition (March 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4805311878
  • ISBN-13: 978-4805311875
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Seki tells us not only a beautiful story, but on every page he has richly painted images of Yuko-Chan, her Daruma Dolls, and her village that bring the words—both in English and in Japanese—to life."—Story Circle Book Reviews

"Daruma dolls are traditional Japanese talismans of good luck and resilience, often given as a gift to encourage the recipient to persevere in reaching a personal goal. The heartening sentiment behind them is expressed in this story…Brilliantly colored and delightfully detailed illustrations are the true highlight here. The use of bold line gives the impression of woodblock prints and cleverly echoes the broad paint strokes that decorate Daruma dolls. Pages are attractively laid out, and characters' faces are expressive and slightly cartoonish, holding great appeal for young audiences."—School Library Journal

"Seki's friendly illustrations supply a wealth of visual information about pre-WWII rural Japan, showing farmhouse interiors, a temple with a rock garden and a schoolroom, and a village festival. His story is a character-building tale about an orphan girl named Yuko, whose blindness doesn't prevent her from participating fully in village life. Lost in the snow one winter day, she realizes that the tea frozen in the bottom of her tea gourd makes the gourd reorient itself when it's knocked over, reminding her of the Buddhist teacher Daruma and his encouraging words: "If you fall down seven times, you should get up eight times!" Sales of the Daruma doll she designs save her village, whose crops have been ruined by a volcanic eruption. With Japanese text that parallels the English on every page, this is likely to find its most enthusiastic audience among students of Japanese language or culture."—Publishers Weekly

"Their crops devastated by a volcano, the villagers of Takasaki struggle to recover until Yuko-chan, an orphaned blind girl, envisions a way they can recover. After an accident, she tips over her gourd of tea, but the frozen tea always returns it upright, reminding her of Daruma's maxim that "If you fall down seven times, you should get up eight times." Yuko-chan suggests that the town make "Daruma Dolls" from gourds and sell them, a craft that saved Takasaki and continues to this day. […] Cartoon-style art features bright colors and pictures filled with traditional Japanese activity. An attractive glimpse of Buddhist images and ideas, this original story fills a unique niche for libraries."—Booklist

"Award-winning author-illustrator Sunny Seki brings the feisty and adorable Yuko-chan vividly to life in word and image. He captures the simple beauties of nature and the rustic built environment of the time as well. A Japanese translation follows the English text on each page, with hiragana (phonetic) symbols printed in superscript so novice Japanese readers can more easily follow the story. The back matter gives additional information about Daruma and the Daruma doll tradition. Tuttle's expert design and high production quality further enhance the experience of Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll. Its impact will deepen with repeated reading."—PaperTigers.org

"It's a lovely book that is wonderful to read again and again. It teaches wonderful lessons about being resourceful and brave. It is well told and entertaining. I love the positive story, the beautiful illustrations, and the introduction to some aspects of Japanese culture. At the end of the book there is a list of cultural notes that defines Daruma, Daruma Doll, the Daruma Doll Festival, Daruma Games, and Gourds."—The Picture Book Review

"This Japanese folk tale tells the story of how a blind Japanese girl came up with the idea for the Daruma doll, and saved her village in the process."—PragmaticMom.com

"…a wonderful fictional story that explains a way the Daruma dolls and their customs came about."—Crafty Moms Share

About the Author

Sunny Seki is the award-winning author and illustrator of The Last Kappa of Old Japan and The Tale of the Lucky Cat. A native of Japan, Sunny studied illustration at Pasadena Art Center of Design. Sunny, his wife Judy and their nine children live in San Gabriel, CA.

More About the Author

Sunny Seki is the author/illustrator of three Japanese children's books: Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll, The Last Kappa of Old Japan, and also The Tale of the Lucky Cat, which won awards from NAPPA Parenting Publishing and Creative Child Magazine.

Born in Tokyo in 1947, he graduated from Nihon Daigaku with a degree in Photography. He then came to the United States, where he studied illustration at Pasadena Art Center of Design. For the next 32 years he operated Sunny Seki Photography in Rosemead. Today he presents his books and other Japanese folktales at community events. In 2009 he was featured on The Disney Channel, a two-minute spot that can be viewed at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_xeKF6Dejw.
Sunny and wife Judy have nine children, and they live in San Gabriel.

Sunny is also the teacher of a Southern California Japanese senryu poetry group. (Senryu has the 5-7-5 format of haiku, but is themed on humorous commentary of the human situation.) In 2007 he published Gardeners' Pioneer Story, an account of the 100-year history of Japanese gardeners through the sensitive senryu poems created by this group of immigrants. In 2010 he published another annotated poetry collection, Hokubei Senryu Michi Shirube, sharing the journey of Japanese-Americans in North America.

Sunny has been introduced on Los Angeles Japanese TV in different interviews. These can be viewed on his website at www.sunnyseki.com.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
The illustrations are vivid and colorful.
Richard Contreras
In "Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll," Mr. Seki tells the tale of how the Daruma Doll came to be though the adventures of a blind Japanese girl.
Estelle
Following the story, Seki offers "Cultural Notes" that help the reader understand customs described in the book.
Kathryn E. Etier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dwight Sinisi on November 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I read this book to my 4 year old son. Immediately after reading the story, he asked me if we could make our own Daruma Doll. Since then, we've read this book, at my son's request, every day.
We both love the illustrations as well as the story. It's a book worth getting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kenta on March 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
this book is amazingly illustrated! it's so rare nowadays to find a book that's hand drawn so beautifully. and to top it off the story is really fun to read as well
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn E. Etier VINE VOICE on March 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Written and Illustrated by Sunny Seki, Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village is a gentle story about an adventurous little girl who wouldn't let others' perception of disability shape her world. In stores March 10, 2012, this charming 32-page hardcover storybook introduces a determined girl, Yuko-Chan, and a society with which many children are not familiar. The book is printed in both English and Japanese. Following the story, Seki offers "Cultural Notes" that help the reader understand customs described in the book.

The story begins with the eruption of Mount Asama 200 years ago. The volcano did not destroy Takasaki, Yuko-Chan's home, it did cover the village in ash and damaged all the crops. Yuko-Chan lived at the Daruma Temple and, although she wasn't permitted to attend school, she sat outside the classroom every day absorbing the lessons being taught. Being blind did not stop her from being a contributing member of her community; she caught a burglar who was stealing from the Temple's offering box and she helped deliver food to those in need. She also taught herself to play the taiko.

After a mercy mission, she and her guide dog get lost and disoriented in a snowstorm. It is during the storm that she is inspired to create a doll that will honor Daruma and help her village earn money, saving it from ruin.

Following her rescue, Yuko-Chan fabricates the doll, presents it to the head monk, and soon has the entire town involved in the manufacture of the dolls, which did, indeed, save the town. The dolls continue to be made to this day.

Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll emphasizes cooperation, altruism, and the importance of community.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lizard S. on December 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This fascinating book for young readers recounts the legend of the Daruma Doll complete with Sunny Seki's glorious illustrations and with text in both English and Japanese. It tells of the little blind girl named Yuko-Chan whose village had been devastated by the eruption of nearby Mount Asama.

With the town at a loss about how to raise money to rebuild, little Yuko-Chan remembered the teaching of the Monk Daruma-san: "If you fall seven times, you must pick yourself up eight times."

By chance, the little girl also remembered that a gourd with frozen tea in its rounded bottom righted itself when it was knocked over. Starting with a bamboo frame, she covered it with paper and painted it, creating the first Daruma Doll. A rock in the bottom gave it the weight to pop up whenever it was knocked over.

When the other villagers saw her doll, they also began to create them and when the Spring Festival arrived, they sold their popular creations and were able to raise enough money to help save the village.

This lovely story provides readers with a touching and inspirational theme and is a marvelous way to help children learn about persistence, overcoming obstacles, and the triumph over adversity.
Sunny Seki has taken a legend, told it in a delightful fashion, and provided many beautiful illustrations to instruct and delight children of all ages.

It is indeed a story that can inspire us all to set our goals and then work hard to achieve them.
(Review written by my dad, author Gerald A. Schiller)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jen Hansard on December 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book! It's a great way to teach children about the Japanese culture-- it's written in both japanese and english, and the author incorporated glimpses of the Japanese lifestyle (green tea, taiko, the temple, etc). Not to mention the powerful story told of a little girl overcoming her disability (blind and orphaned). It was very well done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Estelle on November 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Sunny Seki's work, having previously read "The Tale of the Lucky Cat." I love how he creates a vivid backstory that gives meaning to the existence of everyday Japanese traditions and symbols. In "Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll," Mr. Seki tells the tale of how the Daruma Doll came to be though the adventures of a blind Japanese girl. The book explores adversity, perseverance, and triumph with a graceful innocence, through the eyes of Yuko-chan. Through his beautiful illustrations, Mr. Seki successfully transports us to the historic eruption of Mount Asama and brings all of Yuko-chan's adventures to life. Congratulations to Mr. Seki on another wonderfully crafted tale!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Betsy on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Last night I read Yuko-Chan with my five year old daughter, and we both found the tale inspiring and intriguing. She woke up this morning and right away asked to read the book again. After reading it twice this morning, there was still more to be discovered and discussed. This book is beautifully written and drawn, and the depth of the story has opened up several avenues for us to discuss as we read the story. The impact of a natural disaster, aspects of Japanese culture, overcoming obstacles and exceeding others' expectations. This story teaches important lessons with subtlety, which I find enjoyable to read as a parent and challenging for my five year old who is expressing what she understands is right and wrong. I look forward to seeing more stories by the talented Sunny Seki!
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