Fifteen short, simple songs in Japanese and English seem to be designed more for language practice than actual sharing.
The poems are presented line by line in Japanese characters (three different kinds are used, though only one per poem), a phonetic transcription and a loose but clunky and unrhymed English translation. They include authentically childlike celebrations of rabbits dancing (“Come see, come see the adorable dance / Hoppedy hop, hoppedy hop”), carp streamers “swimming happily in the air” and falling rain (“Picchi picchi chappu chappu / Splish splash, splish splash”). There are also wistful memories of “My Hometown” and a festival song that begins, “Our village guardian god’s generosity / Is what we celebrate on this joyous day / Boom boom, whistle whistle.” On an accompanying CD, tracks identified only by numbers alternate Japanese and English performances of each entry (the former sounding far more natural than the latter), sung in very high voices over solo guitar accompaniments. There is no printed music. Acraman’s art is more toddler-friendly than the lyrics, with plenty of muted but distinct colors and simple, blocky forms.
The Japanese versions’ bouncy rhythms are lost in translation, and even hopes for the sort of cultural insights that folk poetry affords go unfulfilled, since nearly all of the selections are attributed to modern lyricists and composers. (Bilingual nursery songs. 1-4)