cover image I LIVE IN TOKYO


Mari Takabayaski, . . Houghton, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-07702-1

Bright, bustling illustrations abound in this pictorial peek at Japanese life and customs through the eyes of a Tokyo schoolgirl. Mimiko takes readers on a journey through the calendar year, highlighting each month's important traditions. Takabayashi (Marshmallow Kisses) devotes a two-page spread to each month, filling it with petite, concentrated watercolors (many of them captioned in Japanese and English). Pictures of Mimiko's 10 favorite meals (curry rice and tempura top the list) fill one page, while 20 appealing wagashi cakes for a tea ceremony occupy another. Takabayashi marks the start of school in April with intricate pictures of school uniforms, Japanese notebooks and school lunches. On the facing page, she acquaints readers with Japanese writing and forms a clever border by pictorially showing how 10 kanji characters (Chinese characters used in Japanese writing) evolved from the pictures they represent. Such versatile artwork demonstrates the text's examples throughout the book. Though the busy layout may be visually overwhelming at times, it invites readers to slow down and savor each picture. A glossary of Japanese words and numerals plus some simple phrases conclude this informative volume. From Ichigatsu (January) to Junigatsu (December), Takabayashi accessibly and handsomely gives children a taste of life in Tokyo. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)