Saturday, January 27, 2024

Today's read... Little Shrew by Akiko Miyakoshi

It's a book about a shrew! When I saw today's read, I had to snatch the chance to take a peek. I find the cover so well done and have the sneaking suspicion the illustrations are going to be a treat. Plus, it's a shrew! How often does one find this little guy as the star of a picture book? Let's just open it up and take a glance because I'm kind of stuck on the shrew wonderfulness.

by Akiko Miyakoshi
Kids Can Press
Picture Book
72 pages
ages 4 to 8

JUNE 4th!!!

Akiko Miyakoshi returns with a beguiling, quietly magical appreciation of life’s little pleasures. Little Shrew is diligent in all parts of life. He’s a hard worker and follows a strict schedule from morning to night. But even a life that runs like clockwork can be filled with unexpected pockets of joy, such as solving a puzzle for the very first time, enjoying the scent of freshly baked bread, seeing the vast beauty of a shimmering blue ocean or delighting in a visit with friends. This collection of three short stories — perfect for emerging readers — is illustrated in Miyakoshi’s signature soft monochrome palette with pops of color. The charming tales celebrate enduring friendships, dreams for the future and the little pleasures that make everyday life more meaningful.


The hum-drum of life comes across with little hints of joy in this beautifully illustrated book.

Little Shrew enjoys the routine of his life and often does the same things every day. It's calm and reassuring. Ever so often, something different and unexpected happens, and it's these small things which make every moment with cherishing.

Little Shrew is adorable and his timid nature makes him easy to like and want to almost snuggle up to. He's perfect for delivering the theme of this story, which centers around the routine of daily life and how little changes really and quite a bit of joy. To drive this home, the tale is divided into three parts. The first takes the reader through a usual day. The second has a small tale about him happening to see a show on TV. The third has the excitement of  guests stopping by. Each one is its own tale...three stories in one book...which also explains the longer length of over seventy pages.

The text is age appropriate and flows smoothly. It describes each situation with a hint of a smile, making a nice read-aloud, especially for those quieter, calming moments. Beginning readers, who are surer of their words, will find many familiar moments and terms to help build reading experience and those word skills. 

But it's the illustrations which make this read. The images stay in clear but gentle tones to add the soft atmosphere, while making Little Shrew intelligent and cute. Placing him among humans as the only animal gives it a special touch and adds to the curiosity to draw in. It's fun just to thumb through these and gaze at them.

The ideas surrounding the enjoyment of the small wonders of life and finding the happiness in routine are well presented, but this isn't necessarily a read for those with a shorter attention span. The first tale really goes through his daily routine with only very subtle surprises, which won't excite all readers of the age group. While 'excitement' is added with the television discovery in the second read, it also never hit any heights (it left me feeling disappointed with only the small happenings of the last scene). The last read adds more, but even here, it remains on the calmer end and slides back into the delight of a normal life. 

It's an adorable read, a calming read, and a wonderfully illustrated read, which will work better with some listeners than many others.

And here she is...

Akiko Miyakoshi (1982–) was born in Saitama Prefecture, and graduated from the Department of Visual Communication Design at Musashino Art University. Her picture book Taifū ga kuru (Typhoon Comes) won the Nissan Children’s Storybook and Picture Book Grand Prix in 2009, and her Mori no oku no ochakai e (The Tea Party in the Woods) garnered the Japan Picture Book Awards Grand Prize in 2011. Her other works include Piano no happyōkai (Piano Recital) and Kore dare no? (Whose Is This?).

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