Beloved Japanese Children’s Book
Makes Its English Debut
Kuma-Kuma Chan, The Little Bear written and illustrated by Kazue Takahashi
(Museyon Press, 2014; $12.99, Ages 2-5)
“I sometimes wonder what Kuma-Kuma Chan does during the day?”
Kuma-Kuma Chan (“cute little bear”) lives alone in the mountains, in a place difficult for visitors to reach. So how does he spend his day? Well, after waking up, he fixes himself a big salad with lettuce and tomatoes from his own garden. As he pours milk in his coffee, he draws small pictures. He carefully sweeps the house and does some shopping. Then a nap is in order. Later, he gazes at the clouds and listens to the falling rain. In the spring, he pulls weeds, and in the summer he needs to cut his fur to stay cool. Fall is good for love songs and winter would is perfect for reading and following a patch of sunlight around the room.
Alone, but not lonely, Kuma-Kuma lives an unhurried, simple but purposeful life, free from all the clutter and distractions of our modern world. He enjoys his solitude and finds joy in his routines, taking time to live in the moment, and observe what’s going on around him.
Takahashi’s illustrations complement the calm and contemplative narrative and the cuddly Kuma-Kuma Chan. Using a kid-friendly design, Takahashi frees the double page spreads from distractions and accentuates the picture book’s simplicity by focusing children’s attention on one simple and easy-to-read sentence opposite a tiny, sparingly colored illustration.
Kazue ends her story with the sentence “I’m happy to think that Kuma-Kuma Chan has fun during the day and that he is doing well.” I am, too.
May you always have fun and do well.
– Reviewed by Dornel Cerro