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I had the occasion to see the original of the cover painting. A needle shot through my heart. I am a Japanese citizen, my mother tongue definitely Japanese, but I was brought up in the States until I was 9. When I came back, I was just so occupied to adapt and didn't realize that I was considerably lonely and uncomfortable. Worse, my parents' did not realize the fact that Japan was a new place for me, since for them, it had been their home land. Living in different places on the globe accordingly to my father's work did not end with this; we went as far as South Africa. I am now permanently in Japan, having living here for almost 15 years, but still cannot say it is my home. And there still isn't any specific place that I can call "home". I like to believe in the notion of home and belonging presented in this book, and to be able to find the strength that the girl had in breaking her way out to live as "herself" and "make a home" for herself.
I just read this book for the first time today and I was blown away by the illustrations. The story is not only touching and very thought-provoking, as well as true, but the illustration bring to the story a totally fresh and realistic view. Mr. Say is both a talented author and illustrator. I was so captivated by the realism in the drawings and the detail that is paid to the face of the main character, who you come to find out is in some way related to him (I don't want to spoil the whole story, even if it is just a children's book). By far this book is a great read and an excellent buy!
It was a very sweet short story that reflected the ambition of a young girl who eventually encountered love, while adjusting to life in Japan, which was not where she was born. May learned that though some things in life change, some things remain the same, like her love for tea with milk.
As mother to "Third Culture Kids" this book made me teary eyed. This book and Grandfather's Journey (which is related to this one) are both beautiful books that illustrate the tension between homes for children who grow up in more than one place.
I used this as a read-aloud with my second graders in conjunction with Grandfather's Journey--was accompaniment to a social studies unit as well as just a wonderful read-aloud. My students really liked it, and one student in particular went back to re-read it many times.
Like the author's other memoir-like stories, this beautifully written and illustrated book will appeal to all ages, and has great messages about culture, love, and where 'home' is. I am collecting all of Allen Say's works for my future grandchildren; his artwork is exquisite and his prose touching and wise.