Thursday, April 23, 2009

Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi

Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi
Dorothy Kuroyanagi

The name Totto-chan sounds funny to you? It sounds cute to me. =)

What's the book about? The book is written by the writer based on her own childhood experience particularly during her time in her elementary school; Tomoe. The story start off when Totto-chan was expelled from her school at the age 7. Why? Well, her teachers found her very disturbing as she was very curious. Her curiosity distrcted others in the class from paying attention. You may ask how can a 7-year-old be expelled from school and how hard can it be to get her under control. Well, there are 2 things she did that I remember clearly from the page where it was described til I finished reading the book; She was very excited about her school desk as it has an opening on top and she can keep her things in the desk and the part where she stood by the window of her classroom and call up for the musicians to play some songs. Her actions distracted the classroom and teacher didn't know how to handle her that they all decided to expel her. That is where Tomoe comes in.

It isn't an ordinary school. Mr. Kobayashi the headmaster of the school sees early childhood education differently and his has a deep passion for children. How is his school different? Classrooms were not in buildinds but in abandoned trains he brought into the school compound. Children were allowed to sit where they like in the class. Moreover, the children were given freedom when they'd like to finish doing which tasks of the day. They were taught to adapt to the world indirectly through their own kiddy-ways.

My favourite chapter of the book has got to be The Library Car where the headmaster brought in another train into the school compound to be used as the school library. :) Must be a lovely sight. *Awwwww* The chapter A Trip to a Hot Spring made me feel like joining her and her friends. Hihi In this chapter, Toi Spa was mentioned; hot spring in the sea. Here are some lines from the book which described the hot spring.

"The hot spring in the sea was unusual. It was not enclosed so there was no line to set off the hot spring from the rest of the sea. If you crouched down where you were told was the hot spring, the hot water came up to your neck and it felt lovely, just like being in a hot bath, If you wanted to go into the sea from the hot spring, all you had to do was move about fifteen feet sideways and the water gradually gets cooler. The further you went, the colder it got and you knew you were in the sea. so, after you had been swimming about in the sea and began to feel cold, all you had to do was hurry back to the hot spring..."

This book is suitable for all. Main focus on the book is Totto-chan's innocence and her curiosity. She is very lucky to have had an extraordinary childhood memories. Well, we were all kids some time ago and I believe we've got our own stories too. The underlying message in this story is how children's education should be as in how children should be nurtured in their own ways. Well, hard to achieve that these days. =/

I could go on and on about this book. The sentence construction and choice of words can be a bit off but the little girl in the book is cute! And it is not her fault the book turned out that way. It was translated from Japanese to English.

p/s: Could have finished reading this book many weeks ago if it wasn't because of too many distractions. :( It's been awhile since I last got to write a review but here it is!

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