Daruma Dolls – you knock them down and they stand up again – but they don’t exist…yet. Join Yuko-Chan, a young girl in Ancient Japan who is blind, set off on an adventure to show what can be accomplished when you are determined.
Title: Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll
Author: Sunny Seki
Illustrator: Sunney Seki
ISBN: 9784805311875 Language: English / 日本語 Japanese (Kanji with Furigana)
Themes: Japan, history, legends, courage, perseverance, adversity
What’s it about?
This is a charming story about a young girl called Yuko-Chan who is blind. She is largely ignored by her community and as much as she wants to join in and show them what she can do, she is judged by her gender. Her village though is in desperate need of a way to make money and it is Yuko-Chan who stumbles across her solution as she learns what it means to persevere herself.
This book features both English and Hiragana (Japanese) text which really adds a special element to the book. I appreciate the element of perseverance and self-belief that this story encourages as it sets a positive role model for children. The connection to real-life and the Daruma dolls that are made in a little village in Japan also gives the story meaning.
It is a long story compared to others aimed at this age group.
With the Australian Curriculum having strong links to our Asian neighbours, as well as Japanese being taught in many schools, it is great to find a book that can be incoporated into language lessons.
For me personally, this book has worked well for me in motivating students interested in learning the Japanese language. In the early years of education it is important for students to get a broad view of not only the language they are learning but also the culture and the history of the people. This two-fold learning assists students in understanding the context of what they are learning.
Aside from the point that this is a beautifully presented book is the useful of it. Character analysis would be an important feature to look at – Yuko-Chan showed how a female could learn and problem solve in a time when they were not as highly valued as males. She also demonstrates the importance of forgiveness and understanding when it comes to the man who stole the money – he wasn’t painted as being just a thief – he had reasons for it and this balances his character as well. Story maps could be completed showing her journey; a timeline of her journey could also be constructed.
In my classroom we also used this book to integrate art lessons by creating our own little daruma dolls using the plastic Easter egg 2-part containers you can buy and using sand inside to weigh it down. We then used the technique of Papier-mâché (paper-mache) to cover it and then painted them. The success was varying but two of the students nailed it. I will post some activities to use with this book on a teaching ideas page at a later date.