cover image Yoshi's Feast

Yoshi's Feast

Kimiko Kajikawa. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2607-9

Japanese-American Kajikawa's (Sweet Dreams: How Animals Sleep) desire to learn more about her heritage led her to this humorous folktale, adapted from a collection published more than a century ago. This tale takes a story that may be familiar to readers (the baker who wishes to charge a passerby for the privilege of smelling his baked goods) one step further. Fan maker Yoshi enjoys the aroma of his next-door neighbor Sabu's grilled eels, which make Yoshi's simple meals of rice more appetizing. One day, Sabu demands that Yoshi pay for the eels that he has smelled, so Yoshi repays Sabu in kind: the fan maker shakes his box of coins, and thus offers Sabu the sound of his money. Sabu takes his revenge on his neighbor by cooking smelly fish, prompting Yoshi to make peace--and a friendship springs up between them as they both benefit from the fan maker's plan. Kajikawa's eloquent, economic prose matches the spare compositions of Heo's (Pets!; One Afternoon) pencil and oil collages, incorporating handmade Japanese paper. The energizing palette of mustard, russet and olive with blue accents adds flair to the compositions, which resemble Japanese woodblock prints, and the characters' facial expressions and body language heighten the comical moments. While young readers will be swept up in the neighbors' conflict, they will also witness a fair and resourceful solution to a seeming impasse. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)