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!
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.
I found some Japanese-themed coloring pages are found HERE!
To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!