Monday 15 November 2010


Yumi by Annelore Parot (hardie grant Egmont)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781921690358
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This amazing book introduces the Japanese kokeshi doll. It is an ingenious concept for a picture book and is aimed at teaching children about Japanese culture in an interactive way.

The character’s name is Yumi. She introduces herself from inside a cut-out framed image. Another full length Yumi follows surrounded by her accessories: sashes, fans, umbrellas, kimonos, socks, handbags, teapots, hair combs and more. Yumi’s name written in Japanese edges the left-hand page.

A double page depicts a large horizontal Yumi. In her head space are pictures in square caption form of her pet Bamboo, her best friend Sakumi, and a plan of her house. In the top part of her chest is the framed form of the city. On her sash are the shops, and on the lower part of her kimono is a picture of the dream garden and two pictures of Kimi’s party. These are labelled in English and Japanese. This sequence of frames are the events ahead.

Yumi’s kimonos fill the page. She peeks out from behind a partition of dialogue about her clothing. She invites suggestions about what to wear.

We must find her best friend Sakumi amongst the rows of kokeshi dolls on the page or under two additional flaps, and her pet, Bamboo, hidden amongst a forge of vivid colour and design against a black background.

Kimi’s having a party. Beautiful coloured kites in fish designs are floating in the wind as it gains force and the petals from the cherry blossoms float competing with the kites.

The costume shop is Kimi and Yumi’s destination. They must follow the detailed signs to find their way. Two pages of horizontal fold-outs exhibit all the costumes available. They return to Kimi’s house where they change and move toward the buffet meal of delicious, mouth-watering Japanese food.

They leave while the cherry blossoms and the trees are still visible. Then night is upon Yumi. ‘The animals have all gone to sleep and the trees are full of dreams’. The little kokeshi doll salutes the day inside a folded envelope of the same beautifully spotted design as her favourite kimono and the back cover.

This magnificently presented book has a padded hardcover decorated with Japanese prints. A sewn on character of Yumi wearing a red spotted kimono with a patterned waist band is depicted on the front against a sea-green background. The end pages have identical pictures of all the characters appearing in the book but with a different background colour. A second book, Kimonos, is also available.

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