Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen

25692020Florence, Debbi Michiko. Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen
July 11th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Jasmine is looking forward to her family's New Year celebration. Her grandmother is coming from Japan to spend a month, and her cousins and aunts and uncles will be spending two days making mochi, a Japanese treat made by pounding sticky rice and molding it into shapes. They will then have their New Year's celebration. Jasmine is angry that her older sister, Sophie, is allowed to help in the kitchen because she is over ten. Jasmine is not, so she gets stuck babysitting younger cousins. She decides that she wants to help anyway, and wants to break with tradition even further to help pound the rice instead of mold the balls. Her cousin Eddie makes fun of her, her grandmother is shocked and dismayed, but Jasmine's parents give Jasmine a chance to prove herself.

31145072Strengths: The strong family support network was good to see, and I liked that Jasmine also had an older neighbor lady who let her climb the trees in her year and hang out when being at home got to be too much. Sophie is a realistic older sister who does everything first. It was also interesting that even though the family clearly had a very strong Japanese cultural background, they had pizza for their mochi making day dinner. The spot illustrations and engaging story make this a great choice for elementary school libraries.
Weaknesses: Jasmine is a bit bratty, and a little unrealistic about her competencies. The target demographic will be more sympathetic to this. I also could have used more description of mochi earlier in the story, although there is a nice explanation of it in the end.
What I really think: This seemed too young for middle school, but I love the books that are coming out that are aimed at third graders (the best year ever for reading, in my opinion!) like Cilla Lee Jenkins, that are fairly simple to read and have some pictures. This makes them great choices for first graders who are strong readers but who still enjoy some pictures. I would have loved this when I was about six!

Also out is book two, Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth.

Ms. Yingling

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