Yumi’s Extraordinary Collection: Book Review

Yumi's Extraordinary Collection

Everyone in Yumi’s family collect something…so why does she find it so hard to find something she loves to collect? Take a look inside this Japanese family who love to collect different things.

Title: Yumi’s Extraordinary Collection
Author: Elsa Takaoka
Illustrator: Catherine Toennisson
ISBN: 9780986313387          Language: English (with Japanese keywords)

Classification: Fiction
Themes: belonging, family, memories

What’s it about?
Yumi is a member of a family who love to collect things. Each person in the family (going back several generations) has always collected something but Yumi has tried, but not succeeded, in her attempts to have her very own collection but the only thing she really loves…is to draw. So Yumi listens to and draws her Grandmother’s stories.

Great to see a book incorporating the Japanese culture and a sort of anime illustration style. I also appreciate that the book makes a point to their readers…well, actually it makes several and this makes it a thought provoking book

Nothing really (unless I was to be super picky about the term grandmother being used versus the Japanese).

My Thoughts
My first thoughts as I was reading this book was…”My Nanna collected…” and “My Great-Grandfather collected…”; let’s face it, previous generations were really into collecting things and while some people still do…many are moving away from collecting to a more minimal lifestyle which comes through (though I don’t think it was intentional!) in the story. This story is as much about collections as it is about the past and present and how families evolve over time.

Getting past the first thoughts let’s get to it! If you’re a Japanese language teacher – this one is an ideal starter book for your Receptions-Year 2 age bracket. I like it because it contains references to cultural icons – such as kokeshi dolls, origami, kabocha, as well as using traditional Japanese names such as Yumi and Sayuri (but still keeping the book integrated with English names such as Hannah, Yumi’s sister). Basically there is probably something that most kids can relate to in the book which makes it ideal to introducing new students to the culture and language.

Past and present, as mentioned previously, is an important element in this book. It is demonstrated very well through the illustrations. After reading the book I would recommend getting the students to look closely at a page each and read the visual story that is being told. By this I mean:

  • the change in clothing the people wear as the story progresses
  • the subtle differences in the photos on the wall
  • what was being collected and when

Family is another key element in this book. Yumi is struggling to be “just like her family” but at the same time she wants to do what she love (drawing). Her connection with her grandmother is important as it allows Yumi to explore her love of drawing but at the same time documenting her family history as her grandmother’s memories fade. I think in this respect the book succeeds where the story One Photo didn’t quite make it. In this story her grandmother is still alive at the end of the book but it shows that she is unwell, her memory fading – not scary, just sensitively portrayed. Yumi’s collections ends up being the drawings that are in many ways the memories of her family. While her sister scoffed at her drawing it becomes clear that the family can see the special “extraordinary” importance of Yumi’s collection versus their own. As an added note I liked that story showed that Yumi continued to draw as she got older.

I wish to thank author Elsa Takaoka for providing me with a free copy of her book for me to review. I also wish to thank the organisers of Multicultural Children’s Book Day for coordinating this wonderful event between authors, publishers, reviewers, and the reading public.


Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.


Current Sponsors: MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD: Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks,, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors
Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and MFL Publishing Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/


Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.


  1. Author Elsa Takaoka
    January 23, 2018 / 11:56 am

    thank you for this amazing review!

  2. becky
    January 23, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    I LOVE this book of Elsa's! A great lesson in always finding a way 🙂

  3. Jump into A Book
    January 27, 2018 / 2:03 pm

    Wonderful review!!Thank you for sharing.

  4. Jane @ www.raincitylibrarian.ca
    January 27, 2018 / 5:49 pm

    This looks so kawaii! I can't wait to read it, and share it at the library!

  5. Carrie
    January 31, 2018 / 3:04 pm

    Sounds like an amazing book!! Thank you for sharing it!!

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