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Little Daruma and the Three Little Tenjins: A Japanese Children's Tale    by Satoshi Kako order for
Little Daruma and the Three Little Tenjins
by Satoshi Kako
Order:  USA  Can
Tuttle, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This gentle picture book, written (along with about 500 other kids' books!) by Satoshi Kako, gives us a glimpse of a beloved Japanese children's character, Little Daruma. It is translated by Richard Carpenter, who tells us that 'daruma' are dolls that represent 'Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism' and make wishes come true. 'Tenjins' are celestial beings empowered to give blessings.

In this story, Little Daruma goes fishing. When he hooks a fish, it's too heavy for him, and he's helped by 'Little Blue Tenjin', 'Little Yellow Tenjin', and finally 'Little Black Tenjin'. When all four work together, they pull up a huge fish, but then the line snaps. Since the Little Tenjins helped him, Little Daruma assists them in return. They walk 'From ONE pond, past TWO stones and by THREE pine trees' to the Little Tenjins' house, where they do all the chores together. Then they make 'onigiri rice balls', which they take to share with Mother and Father Tenjin, working in the fields.

Little Daruma and the Three Little Tenjins is a charming tale about friendship realized through cooperation and working together. Its lessons (about strength in numbers, acceptance of reversals, and helping each other) are subtle, and its glimpses of Japanese foods and culture add interest.

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