Kokeshi, northern Japanese wooden folk dolls, are painted with differently designed kimonos that denote the area in which they are made and form the inspiration for this pretty novelty.
The kimonos in this title are shown on “creative” (non-traditional) Kokeshi that have evolved from their origins as stickers in France. (Their images are also produced on notecards and journals.) A stilted text, translated from French, accompanies these commercialized, cartoon-like images. The glossy, heavy stock, saturated with a sophisticated palette of black, brown, maroon, bluish-gray and green, teems with kawaii kokeshi— “super cute little wooden dolls”—who talk and act like contemporary little girls. Readers are invited to find the right sash, fan and hair bow to match Kimiyo’s outfit. They locate Yumi’s apartment by lifting the flap that matches her sash. A large gate-fold page reveals Yumi’s family members and another game that involves matching designs to determine her maternal and paternal families. A schoolroom scene shows the days of the week, both in transliteration and in Japanese characters. There are more words to learn when a star (hoshi), a rabbit (usagi) and a pair of socks (tabi), among other objects, serve as inspiration for funny hairstyles that appear when a die-cut page turns.Trite, but very attractively presented, this gift book will charm some little girls and easily teach them snippets of Japanese while engaging them in recognizing unusual patterns. (Picture book. 4-6)