Peach Girl Reviews

Kirkus ReviewsPeachGirl_RGB

“Armed with only her wits, her courage and some delicious peach dumplings cooked by the farmer, she meets a monkey, a dog and a pheasant who, lured by the dumplings, accompany her on her quest…The acrylic paintings feature a winsome girl, three friendly animals and a jolly green giant whose friendliness belies the tales told of him…this story has a satisfying ring and a tasty ending. A winningly good-natured version of a familiar favorite.”

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The National Reading Campaign

“Nakamura has created an iconic figure in the dauntless Momoko. She is a force of nature who strides through the rural Japanese landscape with no hesitation, doubt or fear. Bender’s illustrations are bigger than life and saturated with exuberant colour. There is detail and depth in the pictures that will hold a child’s attention for a long time. In one spread Momoko’s beautiful, expressive face is so animated with inner light that one almost expects her to start moving and talking. In another, the ogre’s pagoda climbs majestically and mysteriously into the clouds. The simple text is vivid with drama as the ogre’s reputation grows ever more terrifying, relieved by a fine sense of comedy and repeated jokes.

As Momoko likes to say whenever she is pleased, this book is ‘Peachy!’ in all its lush, juicy goodness.”
—Charis Cotter

Quill & Quire

“In his engaging debut, author Raymond Nakamura puts a feminist bent on the Japanese folk tale Momotaro (Peach Boy).

In Nakamura’s version, a young girl emerges from a giant peach discovered on the doorstep of an elderly couple (who are, notably, a farmer and her husband). Momoko, which translates as ‘Peach Girl,’ is a feisty creature determined to make the world a better place, a mission that involves ridding it of a child-eating ogre. Gently shrugging off her adoptive parents’ concerns for her safety, Momoko embarks on her quest with peach-pit armour for protection, plus a bundle of peach dumplings to eat on the way.

As with the original fable, Momoko encounters a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant who join her in her quest. Nearing the ogre’s castle, her companions become frightened, but Momoko’s courage never falters. Her good faith doesn’t waver either, and is rewarded when the ogre turns out to be kind and friendly, inviting Momoko and her friends to have tea beneath the cherry blossoms in his garden.

Rebecca Bender, known for her acclaimed Giraffe and Bird books, provides the delightful illustrations. Her people and animals are gorgeously animated, with fabulous facial expressions. The backgrounds feature beautiful spreads of the Japanese landscape, including mountains and rice fields. Such attention to detail is the highlight of the book.

…readers will appreciate the surprise ending and find the repeated language appealing—Momoko’s ‘Peachy’ catchphrase in particular. Nakamura’s playful twists on gender tropes combined with Bender’s outstanding visuals make this a fun and important book for boys and girls alike.”
—Kerry Clare, editor of The 49th Shelf

Resource Links

“When a Japanese farmer and his wife see young Momoko push her way out of a giant peach, they immediately begin to care for her. Using various parts of the fruit, they provide her with clothing, protection, and food. ‘Peachy’ she declares, before she starts off to make the world a better place. As she journeys through the forest, looking for the ogre the couple warned her about, she meets a monkey, a dog, and a pheasant. Although each animal is frightened of the ogre who is bigger than a tree, has teeth like knives, and eyes that shoot flames, they agree to help Momoko for a serving of her peach dumplings. Although the trip is not easy (they have to build a boat) and their fear of the ogre never dissipates, the friends find the ogre’s house and make their presence known. When the strangers begin to talk with one another, they realize no one is as scary as they thought, and because they all love peach dumplings and good company, new friendships are formed.

Inspired by the Japanese story, Peach Boy, this tale (illustrated with acrylics) stars a courageous girl who makes the world a friendlier place through her actions and beliefs. She brings strangers together (Next time, I’ll bring my folks too) and shares what she can; even if it’s all she owns. Set in old Japan, the beautiful picture book with full page paintings, will be cherished by many generations to come.”

CM Magazine

“…Nakamura’s imaginative but slimmer version [of the iconic Japanese ‘Peach Boy’ story], features a gender twist and is lighter and somewhat quirky, with a fearless, daring heroine…Bender’s illustrations enhance and mimic the energy of the lighthearted story. Painted in acrylics on illustration board with a textured surface, the results are wonderfully appealing pictures, many featuring softly coloured peachy tones, while others are brightly hued, lively in detail and highlight glorious landscapes.”

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Smithsonian BookDragon

“…Vancouver-based educator and science blogger Raymond Nakamura’s feisty Momoko is a truth-seeking explorer who doesn’t let gossip about overbearing size, sharp teeth, burning eyes, much less cannibalistic tendencies, deter her from having fabulous experiences. Artist Rebecca Bender celebrates Momoko’s girl power, and makes sure to imbue our intrepid hero with energetic charm and never-flagging spirit. Cleary, we should all be so tenaciously broad-minded as we face the ever-changing wide world. That said, global improvement also includes paying attention to what’s closer to home. Momoko might be a fearless explorer, but she also doesn’t forget her daughterly duties: she’s quick to acknowledge and appreciate her parents’ enabling support by planning on bringing the oldsters along her next time out. A family that seeks together…has a much better time all around!

Oh, such courage and devotion both! Momoko is surely a 21st-century original hero with epic potential. Move over Momotarō…Momoko is here to inspire a new generation of exuberant heroes indeed! Go, girl, go!”

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The Calgary Herald

“A young girl springs forth from a giant peach declaring she is here to make the world a better place. Dressed in peach attire, she heads off with her three animal friends to confront the local ogre. Vivid pictures and fun characters remind the reader that looks can be deceiving. This quirky Japanese tale will appeal to ages five to eight.”
—Barbra Hesson

The International Educator

“Based on an old Japanese tale, this picture book has the feel of a magical fairy tale. Momoko, the girl who magically appears out of a peach, bravely sets off to save the world from an ogre. Together with her animal friends, Momoko eventually finds the ogre who, it turns out, does not eat children but enjoys tea with peach dumplings.”

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…Based on a traditional Japanese folktale about a peach boy named Momotaro who fights demons, Raymond Nakamura updates the story with a strong female protagonist as an activist, rather than a warrior.  Her no-nonsense attitude and tact are the armaments of her endeavour, ones she embodies rather than carries.

…Momoko’s disregard for rumours and the directness of her engagement with everyone, from her parents to the animals and the ogre, can certainly teach us all a lesson or two.  With fortitude and respect (she never negates the animals’ stories of the ogre), and a healthy dose of trust, Momoko is able to make a start on creating a better world.”
—Helen Kubiw

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