cover image Temple Alley Summer

Temple Alley Summer

Sachiko Kashiwaba, trans. from the Japanese by Avery Fischer Udagawa, illus. by Miho Satake. Yonder, $18 (240p) ISBN 978-1-63206-303-8

Japanese novelist Kashiwaba (The Marvelous Village Veiled in Mist) introduces Kazu, a nervous Japanese fifth grader who’s sure the girl in a white kimono he sees slipping out of his house one night is a ghost. Then she appears, normally dressed, in his classroom the next morning. His classmates all seem to know her, and they’re baffled by his questions about her provenance. Kazu soon discovers that his family’s old house contains a small Buddhist statue with the power to bring the dead back to life—a statue that may have some connection to Akari, the mysterious girl. Under the guise of a summer project, Kazu turns detective in a story that reveals an entirely separate nested fairy tale—one that has unsettling parallels to Akari’s own. The more he discovers about her, the more deeply Kazu comes to care about Akari, and readers will, too. Though a detailed, exposition-heavy initial 50 pages may stymie readers, the sturdily translated story eventually recovers, bringing Kashiwaba’s imaginative power, and Satake’s occasional comics-style b&w vignettes, to English-speaking readers. Ages 8–13.[em] (July) [/em]