Tree of Cranes: Allen Say

Tree of Cranes

Author/Illustrator: Allen Say

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Publication Year: 1991

Brief Summary: A young mother teaches her little boy (Allen Say) about an American holiday called Christmas and the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award, 1992 Winner Children’s Literature United States
PEN Center USA Literary Award, 1992 Winner Children’s Lit United States
Bulletin Blue Ribbons, 1991 ; Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson
Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson
Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, 1994 ; National Council of Teachers of English
Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1991
Notable Children’s Books, 1992 ; Association for Library Service to Children
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education
Sharing Cultures: Asian American Children’s Authors, 2001 ; ALSC American Library Association

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library; brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • What are some of the mother’s feelings about America?  How can you tell?  Discuss the word “nostalgia” and “homesickness”.  The mother looks Japanese…why do you think she might be homesick for America?
  • Talk about Japan and its traditions and how these might be different from some of the traditions we have in the U.S.  Japanese people might not celebrate Christmas — why?  what do they celebrate instead?  Do you know of American families that might have different holiday traditions as well?  (e.g. Jewish families don’t celebrate Christmas either!)
  • Survey the class about different holiday traditions that the students hold at home.  Ask students why certain traditions are significant to their family — religious or not.  If students have unique traditions/celebrations, discuss how these might have come about.
  • Read alongside Grandfather’s Journey and Tea with Milk in sequence (Journey, then Tea with Milk, then Tree of Cranes).  Discuss how Allen Say based these books on his family.  His grandfather’s experiences is based on Allen Say’s life; his mom is the child in the first book, the young woman in the second book, and the mom in the third book, in which she taught Say about American Christmases.

Accessed at: Personal Library

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Tea with Milk: Allen Say

Tea with Milk

Author/Illustrator: Allen Say

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Publication Year: 1999

Brief Summary: A young woman who grew up in America returns to Japan with her parents and tries to adjust to her new life.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2000 ; Bank Street College of Education
Booklist Book Review Stars, March 15, 1999 ; American Library Association
Bulletin Blue Ribbons, 1999 ; Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Capitol Choices, 1999 ; The Capitol Choices Committee
Children’s Books of Distinction, 2000 ; Riverbank Review
Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson
Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson
Children’s Literature Choice List, 2000 ; Children’s Literature
Not Just for Children Anymore!, 2001 ; Children’s Book Council
Notable Children’s Books, 2000 ; ALSC American Library Association
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, March 1999 ; Cahners
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education
School Library Journal Best Books, 1999 ; Cahners
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, May 1999 ; Cahners
Smithsonian Magazine’s Notable Books for Children, 1999 ; Smithsonian
Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association, 2000 ; Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library; brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Social Studies: Discuss immigration…what is it?  What might it be like if you have to move to a foreign country?  What are some difficulties you might encounter?  What are some good things that might come out of leaving for a new country?
  • We’ve read stories about people who immigrated to America, but in this story, a Japanese-American girl must go with her parents to Japan and start a new life there.  What kind of things does she have to get used to?
  • Why do you think the parents want to go back to Japan?
  • Social Studies: talk about Japan and its traditions and how these might be different from some of the traditions we have in the U.S.
  • Students research their families background/heritage.  Are there students whose families — parents, grandparents, or further back — have immigrated to the US, or have moved to a different country? Students can make a poster about their experience
  • Students can interview their parents/grandparents about their feelings about leaving their homeland. Make a chart of what they miss about their homeland, and what they love about their new country.
  • Read alongside Grandfather’s Journey and Tree of Cranes in sequence (Journey, then Tea with Milk, then Tree of Cranes).  Discuss how the child in the first book is the young woman in the second, and the mom in the third.
  • Have you travelled outside of the country before?  What was it like?  What did you see/learn/experience? Have students make travel brochures about a place they have visited and would like to promote to their friends (does not have to be outside of the country!).

Accessed at: Personal Library

Zen Shorts: Jon J. Muth

Zen Shorts

Author/Illustrator: Jon J. Muth
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Year: 2005
Brief Summary: Three siblings visit their new neighbor Stillwater, a giant panda, and each learns a lesson about generosity, the randomness of luck, and forgiveness.  This is a good introduction to the Zen approach to the world.
Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • What lessons do the children learn from Stillwater?  What do these lessons tell us about the Zen way of thinking?
  • Introduction to Zen and other Asian philosphies (Tao, Confusionism, etc.).  Compare them to other major philosophies of the West…how are they similar/different?
  • Scholastic teaching guide: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/zen-shorts-storia-teaching-guide
  • Read Muth’s The Three Questions and Zen Ties.

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  Additional information about Zen is included in the back of the book.

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library

Kamishibai Man: Allen Say

 

Kamishibai Man

Author/Illustrator: Allen Say
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Year: 2005
Brief Summary: An elderly Japanese man recalls his career as a kamishibai man, a traditional street performer who tells stories through hand-painted picture cards.
Awards, Honors and Prizes: N/A

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Discuss why the kamishibai man has not performed on the street in a while.  How did the introduction of television change his art?
  • How did the introduction of TV and other technology (iPad, etc.) change the way we live?  Older students can write an essay saying whether they think the changes are good or not, etc.  What are some advantages/disadvantages of technology?

Accessed at: Vancouver Public Library

The Funny Little Woman: Arlene Mosel

The Funny Little Woman

Author: retold by Arlene Mosel
Illustrator: Blair Lent
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Year: 1972
Brief Summary: A retelling of a Japanese folklore where a little lady tricks demons, steals their magic rice paddle, and become one of the richest women in Japan.
Awards, Honors and Prizes: 

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Discuss folklore and its characteristics.
  • Social studies: Japanese culture, religion

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library

The Boy of the Three-Year Nap: Dianne Snyder

The Boy of the Three-Year Nap

Author: Dianne Snyder
Illustrator: Allen Say
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Year: 1988
Brief Summary: Lazy Taro tries to trick a wealthy merchant into letting him marry the merchant’s daughter, but Taro’s widowed mother has a plan of her own.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

 Ideas for using this book in classroom or library:
  • Discussion on multicultural literature and folktales.
  • What is the moral of this story?
  • Study the beautiful illustrations.  What can you say about the setting?  The culture?

Brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Language arts: folktales
  • Text-to-world connections

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.
Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library

How My Parents Learned to Eat: Ina R. Friedman

How My Parents Learned to Eat

Author: Ina R. Friedman
Illustrator: Allen Say
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Year: 1984
Brief Summary: A girl tells the story of how her Japanese mom met her American sailor dad and how each learned to eat the other’s way.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

 Ideas for using this book in classroom or library:
  • Discussion on multiculturalism.  Why was the girl worried about eating with the American sailor?  Why was he worried?
  • Studied the pictures and describe the setting.  What can you tell about Japanese culture/customs by looking at the illustrations?
  • How did your parents or grandparents meet?  Interview them if possible (or another couple you admire) and write about their first-meeting/courtship story.

Brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Language arts
  • Social studies: Japanese culture; cross cultural awareness
  • Text-to-self connections

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.
Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library