by Kazumi Yumoto

Summary

School Library Journal:

Gr 4-6- A book about death that espouses the pure joy in life. Sixth-grader Yamashita has just attended his grandmother’s funeral. Since he barely has any memories of his elderly relative, he merely relates mundane details to his friends, Kawabe and Kiyama, leaving their curiosity unsatisfied. With typical childlike logic, the three schoolboys decide to discover more about death by haunting an old man, who, they reason, is going to die soon. As these youngsters become more involved in the life of the elderly neighbor and, in fact bond with him, their friendship and understanding of one another deepens and grows. Readers will take great pleasure in knowing these younsters, whose lives are far from perfect, but who are real and funny. This book stays firmly rooted in the country and culture from which it came, while telling the universal story of our perennial fascination with death, love, bravery, and ghosts. The point is subtly made that reverence for life goes on amid unpleasant details. The translation from the Japanese is grounded in a vocabulary most children will know except for certain terms, such as “cram school,” which are explained, and “sushi,” which shouldn’t be hard to look up.-Carol A. Edwards, Minneapolis Public Library

Awards:

  • ALA Notable Children’s Books: 1997
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book  Awards: Fiction and Poetry
  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award

Topics

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Friendship, Loss