Posted on October 1st, 2014 by pajamapress
“…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!”
Click here to read the full review.
Posted on June 3rd, 2014 by pajamapress
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