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School Library Journal Riviewed Gon and Pakkun

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School Library Journal published a great review of both Gon, the Little Fox and Pakkun the Wolf and His Dinosaur Friends!

Gon, the Little Fox
Gon p24-25K-Gr 2—This retelling of a Japanese folktale, with exquisite watercolor illustrations by Mita, was first published in 1969. Gon, a mischief-loving little fox, spends his days spying on the villagers who live near his forest home. One day, he sees Hyoju fishing in the rain-swollen stream, and when the young man leaves his basket behind, Gon throws his catch back into the stream. As a squirming eel wraps itself around Gon’s neck, Hyoju sees him and calls, “Hey, you, thieving fox.” Gon gets away, but 10 days later, he sees the villagers preparing for a funeral and learns that Hyoju’s mother has died. Assailed by guilt, Gon raises his paws to his face and thinks, “Now, Hyoju is all alone just like me.” The fox tries to make amends by stealing sardines from a peddler. This only leads to more trouble for Hyoju, who fails to comprehend Gon’s clumsy attempts at friendship until it is too late. Niimi (1913–43) is often compared to Hans Christian Andersen, and this tale brings to mind The Little Mermaid, The Fir Tree, and The Little Match Girl, among others. It lacks the overt Christianity and moralizing of Andersen’s tales, focusing instead on the beauty of the rural landscape and evoking a sense of melancholy. There are references to Buddhism and its customs and a smattering of Japanese terms defined in the text. VERDICT This poignant tale will resonate with older readers, who will empathize with the struggles of a lonely outsider. Teachers will also appreciate the glimpse into Japan’s rich culture.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Pakkun the Wolf and His Dinosaur Friends
Pakkun_p12-13K-Gr 3—In the topsy-turvy world of Pakkun the Wolf and his friends, the Land of Dinosaurs is a place below the world’s surface, and a quick tumble takes Pakkun there (and back again). When one of Mrs. Hen’s eggs rolls out of the nest, Pakkun offers to find it and tumbles head-over-heels through a cave-filled passageway. In the Land of Dinosaurs, he meets a new friend, Ptera, a pteranodon, who offers to help. They travel through deserts and oceans, past jungles and smoking volcanoes. At one point, Ptera’s mother offers them a ride on her back. They meet a tyrannosaurus and an “always hungry” creature called Karaurus; Pakkun bares elongated fangs and scares him away. Long-necked Mrs. Saurapod suggests they try the Valley of Dinosaur Eggs, and there they find the tiny egg among many others. All of the eggs hatch, and Pakkun takes Mrs. Hen’s chick home. Kimura’s cartoon illustrations abound with whimsical details. Small, brown-furred Pakkun resembles a dog with a wide tuft of hair, close-set eyes, and large whiskery snout. Other animals including Mrs. Hen and Ptera, have large googly eyes. Even the fiercest animals are helpful: “Mr. T-Rex” interrupts his fight with a duck-billed dinosaur to respond politely to Ptera and Pakkun’s inquiry. VERDICT Even if your shelves are crowded with dinosaur stories, this unconventional tale will captivate a wide range of readers, young and old.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Pakkun&Gon Cover2

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