Natsumi!

Written by: Susan Lendroth

Illustrated by: Priscilla Burris

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Expression, Family Acceptance, Asian Families, Culture and Traditions, Self-Esteem, Japanese Culture

Summary: Natsumi is a young Japanese girl that is constantly being told things like “slow down!”, “not so fast!”, and “not so loud!”.  When the community is gearing up for a special holiday, Natsumi wants to try all of the different activities!  She tries dancing, matcha-making, and flower arranging, but none of them are for her.  Luckily, Natsumi’s grandfather has an idea and meets her everyday after school to prepare.  On the night of the event, Natsumi reveals what she’s been working so hard on to her family and community.

This book addresses both cultural and familial acceptance.  Natsumi defies some stereotypes often associated with Asian women, while also finding a place within her community to celebrate an important cultural event.  Having a mentor like her grandfather is an endearing plot point, and helps to solidify the closeness of their family to the reader.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever had someone say the things Natsumi’s family said to her to you?
  • How did it make you feel when these things were said to you?
  • Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit it with an event that was going on around you?
  • What could you say to a friend if they are feeling this way?

Continuing the Conversation: 

  • Think about a community-wide event that takes place where you and your family live.  What different jobs are needed to make the event happen?  Is there something you could volunteer to do with your family or friends?
  • Put on a school-wide talent show, so each student may have the chance to showcase something special about themselves.
  • Books for further reading:
    • Sparkle Boy by Lesléa Newman
    • George by Alex Gino

About the Author & the Illustrator:

105231Susan Lendroth is fascinated by the past as much as the future so her books alternate between the historic (and upcoming prehistoric) and journeys to other worlds. She combined her daughter’s often over-the-top curiosity and exuberance with her fascination with an all-girl taiko drumming group she saw on a trip to Japan to create Natsumi’s story. She lives in Sierra Madre, California. She is the author of Hey Ho, to Mars We’ll Go!, Old Manhattan Has Some Farms, Calico Dorsey and more.

223621Priscilla Burris has loved creating art from a very young age ~ just about the time she was allowed to hold a pencil. Her neighborhood public library was built right across the street from her home, and that is where her love of children’s books truly began.  She loves creating the clothing, scenery and settings that are needed for each character and story! Developing characters who bring their own personalities and perspectives into a story or image is probably her most favorite part of what she does! It’s a privilege, an honor, and a joy to illustrate books and materials for children, parents and teachers, as well as art for greeting cards, rubber stamps, murals, apparel designs ~ and cake painting, too! It’s exciting to realize that there is always so much to learn and experience in creating art and design.  She loves her job!

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