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A TO ZEN by Ruth Wells


A Book of Japanese Culture

by Ruth Wells & illustrated by Yoshi

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1992
ISBN: 0-88708-175-4

 Alphabet-book format can prove unaccommodating for informational books; still, it's sometimes used to surprisingly good effect, as it is here. Wells offers a broad sampling of features of Japanese culture that happen to be initialed by Western letters--aikido (from the martial arts); chanoyu (the tea ceremony); daruma dolls, Zen's appealing aid to goal-setting; Hiroshima (and its Peace Park); origami; and even such contemporary items as wokuman (Walkman)--all chosen to interest young readers as well as to exemplify Japanese society. A brief anecdotal paragraph explains each; the word written in Japanese characters and an elegantly designed illustration complete the page. There's no ``X,'' a sensible solution to an often vexing problem, but other letters are missing, too: ``L,'' ``Q,'' ``V.'' (Also, though what would be the front of the book reads, ``This book begins on the other side,'' and it progresses in the reverse of the usual order, the title page is in the ``normal'' position- -or after ``Z,'' depending on how you look at it.) Still, nice. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 8-11)