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A young Japanese girl struggles to meet the expectations of her mother and the unique culture of the sea divers who capture food for their village
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Kindergarten-Grade 2. In this pedestrian, thinly plotted story, Kiyomi is learning from her mother to be an ama, or female diver, but she is afraid of the deep water. One night she discovers a newly hatched sea turtle on the beach going toward the city lights in the distance, so she helps guide it to the ocean. Several years later as she is fearfully attempting her dives, she sees what she believes is the same turtle swim past, for, like the hatchling, it has a star pattern on its shell. She dives in and swims with it to the ocean floor. After it departs, she continues to dive into the deep, hunting for abalone. An author's note gives additional information on the kinds of ama and what they bring up but doesn't answer questions such as how deep they go, why they wear white, or how many there are today. The oil-wash and colored-pencil illustrations, done predominantly in greens, browns, and rusts, fill the double-page spreads, with the text inserted on lighter rectangles. Many of the spreads are so grainy that they look as though they have been covered with a layer of dark brown sand, with generally unattractive results.?Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 5-8. Bell's story told in first person and present tense over a period of several years concerns a Japanese girl named Kiyomi, who is expected to follow an ancestral tradition in the maternal line of her family. Her mother, grandmother, and even her great-great-great-grandmother have been among the ama, women who dive to the ocean floor and harvest seafood for Japanese emperors. Kiyomi's fear of deep water makes her reluctant to dive, a failure that disgraces the girl and her family. Only the love of a sea turtle enables her to swim, dive, and become comfortable enough in the water to succeed as amas. The deftly drawn colored pencil-and-oil wash illustrations are shaded to the point of darkness, even in the daytime scenes. The story is rather long for young children, who might in any case be puzzled or taken aback by the divers' faces, which are painted white to protect them from the salt water (a fact not explained until late in the book). Older children, however, may find this a picturesque introduction to a little-known aspect of Japanese culture. Recommended for larger collections. Carolyn Phelan
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Book Description Ideals Childrens Books, 1997. Condition: New. Erin McGonigle Brammer (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M1571020950