THE SPRING TONE by Kazumi Yumoto


Age Range: 12 - 14
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In lyrical scenes, Yumoto (The Friends, 1996) traces the transformation of a Japanese girl to young womanhood. The summer before she enters junior high, Tomomi and her younger brother, Tetsu, try to escape their strained family life by wandering the streets, looking for dead cats with which Tetsu can torment their hostile elderly neighbor. They meet a woman whose mission in life is to feed abandoned cats and slowly develop compassion for the hungry animals. Dispersed throughout the novel are Tomomi’s fearful dreams; she is angry that she must grow up and fights it all the way. Her grandfather, in his hobby of fixing broken things, understands that there is pain associated with growing up, and offers Tomomi refuge. Her epiphany comes when the hate-filled neighbor collapses in front of her, and she—realizing the dangers of such hatred—calls the ambulance that will save his life. The book’s frequently shifting scenes reflect the confusion of young adolescence; from this disorientation Yumoto pieces together element after element, which eventually resolve into a portrait of hope. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 19th, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-37153-9
Page count: 166pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999