In which I do poorly on a quiz meant to prepare children for elementary school and then am abused by stamps.
I thought today I’d write about something I picked up in my latest CD Japan order — this book, Sumikko Gurashi Gakkou Daisuki (Sumikko Gurashi We Love School). It’s made for kids entering school for the first time, and it includes information on what school life is like and the proper way to hold a pencil (learn well, kids; I still hold mine weird).
I realize this is actually classified as a “mook”—a cross between a magazine and a book that my spellcheck is very sure should really be “nook”—but since I figured it’s more of a one-time book than a recurring magazine I’ll just go with that.
There are two main draws to this book: the cute Sumikko stuff and the info you get about Japanese school life (well, I mean, to the extent such books reflect reality — I had friends who were livid that the maddening orgy of ice cream promised by children’s books in the USA didn’t happen after they had their tonsils out, so I get that it’s an idealized picture).
It breaks down the school day into getting to school, homeroom & reading time, morning classes like language and arithmetic, meal time, cleaning, afternoon break (for tag, drawing, and reading, it says), and then afternoon classes like gym, art, and music, followed by the trip home.
Also in here are some activities. This includes a puzzle with a clock I got wrong on the first try (I work in a math-related field, too… (´；Д；`)). But there are also quizzes over school life, items such as desks and classrooms (essentially a spelling test — “gakkou or gakko” type questions), and greetings and conversation (I find the sociolinguistics of things like tada ima very cool, and it’s extra cool to see how they are taught to native speakers).
The Sumikko stuff is generally educational, with numbers and shapes and writing and such. Educational consultants worked on the book, and there is some lesson plan standards information (for parents). There’s also general entertainment like crosswords, mazes, and connect-the-dots.
Then there is a story about Ebi Furai no Shippo (fried shrimp tail) meeting Aji Furai no Shippo (fried fish tail) when she goes to buy food for a depressed Tonkatsu.
If you’re a linguistics geek like me, you might be interested to know this mook is written in hiragana (even the katakana vocabulary words have hiragana, which I hadn’t run across before) throughout. At the end, the book is mostly educational charts, with hiragana and katakana plus about 80 kanji, as well as a chart on telling time.
As I said above, though, at a cover price of a little more than ten dollars, I ended up liking the book better than the furoku for various reasons. The first is mostly my own fault — I misread the “jewel” on the play cell phone case that holds everything as the camera positioned on top, so I initially stuck the sticker on upside down. Trying to take it off ended up with the tear you see in the picture. That thing was stuck.
The stamps inside, while cute, were a bit of a problem because the included pink ink was so drippy…and it stains….oof, my poor hands. The mini notebook is cute, though plain inside. I guess this furoku feels a little more cheap than some. You may notice that the front cover promises three furoku, but one of them consists of “posters,” which aren’t so much posters as just the regular old pages in the book with educational charts on them.
Regardless of the above, I recommend this little book if you like Sumikko Gurashi, want beginner level Japanese practice with no kanji needed, or have a general curiosity about multicultural education. It’s genuinely cute throughout, with a lot of color pages and cute designs.
…But now I need to go do something about the pink ink all over my hands.
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