PPBF! The Warrior and the Wise Man by David Wisniewski

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because my Karate instructor recommended it! Thanks Sensei Joanne!

The Warrior and the Wise Man warriorandwise

by David Wisniewski

32 pages – ages 6+

Published by HarperCollins August 27, 1998

Theme/Topic – Fairy/Folk Tale – multicultural

Opening and Synopsis – 

“Long Ago In Japan, An Emperor Had Twin Sons. They were alike in every feature and gesture, yet very different in nature and temperament.

Tozaemon, brave and fierce, was the greatest warrior in the land.

Toemon, thoughtful and gentle, was the greatest wise man in the land.”

The emperor must choose a son to be the one to take over the throne and rule Japan. The emperor tells his sons that the world is made of five eternal elements and each element is guarded by a monster. The first son to bring all five elements to him will be the next emperor. The brothers go on the journey, but do it in very different ways. Who will be emperor?

Why I liked this book – This book has a great message about kindness is always better than violence. I love that message! I really like how the author sums up the moral of the story, saying that he wanted to “dramatize the contrast between two approaches to solving a problem, one relying on blind force and the other on reasoned action” I love how the illustrations are made – from paper and other flat materials! Look at one –


The author’s note at the end of the book is interesting too. It teaches a bit of history about Japan and its people (the warriors and monks). I like how the characters are portrayed. Toezaemon (Toe-ZAY-mon) and Toemon (Toe-AY-mon) are interesting brothers. Their names mean “left” and “right” in the Japanese language. I think that is a good way to define identical twin brothers who act differently, don’t you? I think kids 6+ would enjoy this story!

Activities and Resources –

Make the characters into Sock Puppets and act it out! Maybe use a small sock for the brothers and their father. Use big socks for the monsters, and old glove tips as Finger Puppets for the armies! I found a cool website for making Sock Puppets HERE!

Then, while you have your puppets, put on a play of the book, or another story where you have multiple ways to do something, and your child picks the one they would do. Congratulate them if they make the BEST choice.

typical German Sockpuppets schmoozing at Colog...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found some Japanese-themed coloring pages are found HERE!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE!

Categories: Age 6-9, Perfect Picture Book Friday

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41 replies

  1. Always a great message. many thanks Erik.

  2. “Right” and “left” make perfect sense for this story. Your sensei is indeed wise, Erik!

  3. Erik, this is a stunning book. I can already imagine my own two “warriors” embarking on a quest after reading this one. And my oldest loves Japan and has decided he wants to live there when he grows up. I hope the library has this.

  4. What wonderful Japanese folkore with such terrific messages about how each son approaches his quest. Great choice. I love Japan, so this would grab my attention.

  5. David is an outstanding illustrator, though I haven’t seen this book yet. Thanks for the puppet idea. It’s inspired!

  6. His paper illos are OUT OF THIS WORLD! I’ll be looking for this – one Ihaven’t read yet

  7. Erik, where do you find such great books? The sermon at church today was a combination of kind and forceful.

  8. This book is important for dog training. I always do better when Mom says, “Want a treat?” than when she says, “What a spankin’?”

  9. Oooh I love folk tales. Great choice Erik. I have been to Japan and would enjoy reading this myself. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hurrah! Sock puppets and fairy tales – what a GREAT combination. The illustrations look incredible. Thanks for sharing this one Eric!

  11. what a fabulous message set in a great japanese folk story. Sock puppets – fabulous!

  12. Looks and sounds like a great book! And I like your sock puppets a lot! Thanks!

  13. An awesome recommendation. I have some boys in my class who’d love that book!

  14. Erik…you scored a grand slam home run with this book! I love the story…I love the message…I love the illustrations…and I love that it has an Asian theme…and I’ve been searching for great picture books like that. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this one!

  15. This look great. My kids are Asian so I am especially interested in finding multicultural books for them. Your blog is really great btw! I am really enjoying it!

  16. Another great book introducing another culture. I love the whole idea of this book. Thanks for the fab review. Japan is a country I have yet to visit. I think Amanda would like it there.

  17. “Kindness is always better than violence” is a perfect message. Love your sock puppet activity! That would be a lot of fun. Thanks for a great review, Erik!

  18. The pictures in this book do look amazing. I always love a book with a message about kindness. Thanks for sharing!

  19. We do need more kindness, peace, and love in this world today. Still reeling over what happened in Boston. 🙁 I love David Wisniewski – one of my favorite book artists. 🙂

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