Suki's Kimono
 
SUKI’S KIMONO
by Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Kids Can Press, Limited
1-55337-084-8
$15.95
Ages 5 to 8

The first day of school is special. Hey, every school day is, but I have to admit that the first day holds a bit of extra magic. It’s a day of newness . . . new classroom, new teacher, new backpack, maybe even a new outfit or a pair of new shoes. Yes, it’s a very important day.

So, it was no wonder that Suki wanted to wear something special on her first day in first grade. But when she decided to wear her kimono, her sisters, Mari and Yumi, thought she was weird. They wanted Suki to wear something new . . . something cool, but Suki didn’t care for new or cool. She was determined to wear the blue kimono and her shiny red geta. Suki didn’t listen when Yumi and Mari warned her that everyone would laugh. She simply didn’t care.

It takes a special person . . . a spunky person to dare to be different, to step out of the box, to think her own thoughts and chase her own dreams. How simple it is to follow the crowd or let others do your thinking. How easy it is to blend into mediocrity . . . BUT not Suki. Suki makes me wish I had my very own kimono and geta.

SUKI’S KIMONO is a beautifully written story by first time picture book author, Chieri Uegaki. Ms. Uegaki, through her main character, Suki, celebrates the courage to be different, while offering the reader a glimpse into Japanese culture. Then, illustrator, Stephane Jorisch steps up to add his flair with his fanciful watercolors. His paintings simply capture the essence of Suki. You know . . . they say to never judge a book by its cover, but this time I can’t help it. One look at Suki and she danced right off the cover and into my heart. I have no doubt she’ll capture yours, too.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“Suki wanted to wear her kimono on the first day of school,” said Jake.

“Suki’s obachan (grandmother) gave it to her,” said Roberto.

“I think she wanted to wear it,” said Annie, “because she wanted to be different.”

Emma nodded. “Annie ‘s right. Suki wanted everyone to see something new in the world.”

“Yeah! She wanted to stand out from everyone,” said Jake, “but her sisters said everyone would laugh at her.”

Tina nodded. “They said she would be embarrassed.”

“But, she ignored them,” said Roberto. “It’s like she didn’t actually, really care.”

“Well, if I were Suki,” said Ethan, “I would just say, ‘Who cares what other people think?’ What matters is what I think.”

Annie seemed rather thoughtful. Then she said, “I kind of feel like Suki. Once I wore something from Germany and I thought people would think I was weird.”

“I felt the same as Suki, too,” said Jaina. “When there was an Indian holiday, my mom said I had to wear Indian clothes to school. I was afraid. I wondered what my friends would think.”

Tina laughed. “I liked when Jaina wore her Indian clothes. It was nice. It was something different to see.”

“Jaina looked pretty . . . like Suki,” said Kiley.

Jaina giggled. “I looked really beautiful!” she said.

“You know, this story kind of reminds me of UNIQUE MONIQUE,” said Jake.

“Right!” said Lily, “because Suki was unique, too.”

“Unique Monique and Suki were kind of alike because they were wearing what they wanted to wear,” said Roberto.

“Suki was really brave and determined to do it,” said Lily.

“Once my friend wore a kimono to school,” said Betsy.

“I think no one ever wore a kimono in my school,” said Cara.

“I think the illustrations showed Japanese traditions,” said Lily. “There was a lot of inspiration in them.”

“And they are very colorful, too,” said Tina. “I like the costumes.”

“And the author and the illustrator did a good job,” said Emma. “The words match the pictures.”

“I think the illustrator put a part of his life in this book,” said Kiley.

“Well,” said Annie thinking. “I think Suki did the right thing. People should really do what they want.”


TEACHER TALK

LANGUAGE ARTS – What's in a Name?

I don’t know about you, but my school is becoming more and more multicultural. The United States is not called the “Melting Pot” for nothing. Children come to school with their native names. Some flow melodically over my lips while others wrap themselves around my tongue and I can barely spit them out. Oh . . . I do, finally but with a lot of practice.

Names are very special . . . very personal. Remember naming a favorite stuffed animal or doll baby? Maybe for you it was a pet turtle, frog, or fish. Children are fascinated with names and finding the meanings of their names can be a lot of fun. Use one of the sites below to find the meanings of the names of your students. Hey, why not start with Suki?

BABY NAME WORLD: http://www.babynameworld.com/k.asp
COOL BABY NAMES: http://www.cool-baby-names.com/

Make a chart:

NAME ………...………....…MEANING ………...…........CULTURE

Suki………………………….Beloved………………………Japanese
Donna………………………..Lady………………………....Italian
Kahoku……………………...Star…………………………..Hawaiian


Then set aside a NAMING DAY. Children can chose a new or favorite name and wear a nametag for the day.


MATH -- Patterning

Children love rhythm and movement. They love to clap and tap, stamp and stomp, hop and jump.

Here are some patterns to try.

#1 STAMP FEET ....... A B pattern

Right Left Right Left Right Left Right Left

#2 SWING ARMS ....... A B pattern

Up Down Up Down Up Down Up Down

#3 STEP PATTERN ....... AAAB pattern

Back Back Back Clap Back Back Back Clap

Now make up some of your own. Better yet . . . have the children think up some new ones and record on chalkboard.

Okay, now that we have practiced some pattern movements, let’s put them together to do the “SUKI SHUFFLE” .

Stamp right.
Stamp left.

Arms up.
Arms down.

Step back and back and back and clap.

Invite one volunteer to demonstrate with you. Then invite several more volunteers to join. Encourage the children to synchronize their movements while you call out the pattern. Continue to add several children at a time until all children are doing the “SUKI SHUFFLE” .
The dance looks pretty, done in either a line or a circle.


If you like SUKI'S KIMONO or books about children who have minds of their own and believe in themselves, you may also like the following books:

BEING FRIENDS by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Joy Allen
WILLA the WONDERFUL by Susan Milford
UNIQUE MONIQUE by Maria Rousaki, illustrated by Polina Papanikolaou (see review in TEACHER'S PETS)
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All contents copyright (c) 2002. Donna O'Donnell Figurski.
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