Grandfather's Journey ) tells of an American girl whose ingenuous hopes of reaching &#"/>

Erika-san

Allen Say, Author . Houghton Mifflin $17 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-88933-4

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.)

Reviewed on: 11/24/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
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