Navigation Menu
Review: Wabi Sabi-Japan with children

Review: Wabi Sabi-Japan with children

 “Beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest and mysterious” what a wonderful concept to share.  Wabi Sabi is a great introduction to Japanese culture as Wabi Sabi the cat tries to find the meaning of his name.  As her master tries to explain, a haiku perfectly captures the cat’s behavior. The cat’s tail twitching, she watches her master, still waiting in silence Not satisfied with her master’s lack of response, Wabi Sabi sets off, determined to find the meaning of his name.  She asks Snowball the cat, Rascal the dog, and Kosho the Monkey, traveling to Mt. Hiei near Kyoto to find out what “wabi sabi” means.  After some struggle with the concept, she starts seeing beauty in the simplicity, the ordinary, and the imperfect.  The meaning of Wabi Sabi. Wabi Sabi is a beautiful book with haiku accompanying the evolving story of Wabi Sabi as he tries to discover the meaning of his name.  In addition to the story, there are Japanese haiku written on each page, the translations which are available at the end of the story.   It is a great book for conveying the simplicity and beauty of Japanese culture, a concept “that’s hard to explain.” If you’d like to add Wabi Sabi to your child’s collection, click here: Wabi...

Read More
Review: A Single Pebble-China with children

Review: A Single Pebble-China with children

The Silk road was a series of 4000 miles (6,437 km) of trade routes connecting China to the Mediterranean Sea and gets its name from the Chinese silk trade carried out along its length beginning in the Han Dynasty around 206 BC. In A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen, a little girl, Mei, wants to travel with her father along the Silk Road to trade.  When he refuses, she asks him to carry a jade pebble with him as a gift for a child at the end of the road.  Her father laughs and tells her that he doesn’t travel that far, but she insists that everything is possible. When her father gets to town, he tells his daughter’s story to a Buddhist monk traveling west.  The monk agrees to take the pebble with him on his voyage and passes the jade pebble and his wooden flute to a sandalwood trader along with the message that it is a “gift for a child at the end of the road.”  The sandalwood trader puts the flute and the pebble in a carved sandalwood box and passes the treasures along to a family of acrobats traveling to Baghdad.  The little girl in the traveling family adds a small carved elephant as her contribution to the box.  A thief is pressured to add a stick of cinnamon to the box, but has the box stolen by a pirate while traveling by boat to Italy.  However, the pirate has a family and he brings the box home to his son in Torcello, Italy making Mei’s wish comes true; her pebble is “a gift for a child at the end of the road.” The frontispiece of  A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road has a map of the Silk Road at the time the story takes place (9th century) and identifies the portion of the route traveled by each character.  The endpaper contains a modern map which was great for comparison purposes. We spent a lot of time talking about why names and boarders change and the different countries that were part of the Silk Road.  We also talked about why it took an entire year for the jade...

Read More
Review: Manjiro-Japan with children

Review: Manjiro-Japan with children

“No Japanese ship or boat . . . nor any native of Japan, shall presume to go out of the country; whoso acts contrary to this shall die.”  -Tokugawa Shogunate pronouncement, 1638.   From 1641-1853, Japan cut itself off from the rest of the world with very limited trading.  The Japanese were not allowed to leave and if they did leave, they were not allowed to return.  In  Manjiro: The Boy Who Risked His Life for Two Countries by Emily Arnold McCully, fourteen year old Manjiro is working on a fishing boat just a few miles off shore.  All is well and there is no concern for the edict until a storm hits and the ship starts to founder. As Manjiro and the other fisherman try to head back to shore, they lose an oar and are at the mercy of the winds.  After eight days at sea, they land on a tiny rocky island.  The men discover a cave on the island,  home to hundreds of nesting albatrosses.  Food and shelter, but would they ever get off the island?  Will they ever get home? Six months after they land, a huge ship comes into view.  Finally rescue! But the men on the boat speak a strange language and no one understood anything the other people said.  Manjiro was fascinated by the strange men.  He followed them all over the ship, trying to learn their language.  The captain, William H. Whitfield, gave Manjiro a slate with letters on it and he practiced writing.  He also learned to read a map and use a sextant, things he’d never seen before.  When the boat stopped at the port of Honolulu for supplies, the other fisherman asked to be left there to find jobs. But Manjiro was invited to continue with the ship to Massachusetts. When they arrived in New Bedford, Massachussetts, Captain Whitfield took them to a church to say thanks, only to be told that Manjiro couldn’t sit with him.  They left and found another church where they could sit together.  Manjiro was tutored in English and other subjects before being sent to school, but he still worried about his family. He was determined to get back to Japan.  With Mrs....

Read More

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)