Say, Allen. Erika-san. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2008.
A little girl, seeing a picture of a teahouse in her grandmother’s home, becomes curious about Japan. She reads books about Japan, learns how to speak Japanese, and – after she grows up and finishes college – moves to Japan to become a schoolteacher. But busy Tokyo doesn’t appeal to her. She longs for the countryside. She finally finds it, a little village that reminds her of the picture from long ago, a place where she makes a friend, marries him, and creates her new home.
Some reviewers have criticized this picture book for depicting a character that dislikes a foreign city, for writing about a character appropriating another culture as her own. But this quietly beautiful picture book isn’t about displaying political correctness or conveying moral messages. It is a story about someone who admires a way of life and goes out to find it. It is a story for everyone who has had a dream and then set out to find it. Recommended for reflective readers 9 to 12 years old.
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