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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter - Multicultural Children's Book Day Book Review #MCBD2019 #ReadYourWorld

Welcome to Multicultural Children's Book Day. This is my fifth year participating. For more information on this year's event, including a list of sponsors, see my Multicultural Children's Book Day is Here post. Not only is this my fifth year participating, but this is also my fifth year reviewing a book from Tuttle Publishing, as they offer many books rooted in Asian culture, language, and history.

As the white parent of an Asian child, my wife and I have learned the importance of being able to see yourself in the stories you read. So, we've always been on the lookout for books where everyone isn't my skin color. Thanks to efforts like the Multicultural Children's Book Day, that task has gotten much easier as these books are more readily available, where you don't have to hunt them out or hear about them through word of mouth.
This year, I had the chance to review the book Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter. It was the winner of the 2018 Japan International Manga Award. If you're not familiar with manga, the quick answer is Japanese comics, but it is a bit more involved then that with different types of manga for different age ranges, from young child to adult porn. Onibi is of the young child variety, up to pre-teen probably, though if they scare easily... perhaps a little older even.

The premise of the book is a travelogue of two foreigners who visit Japan and purchase a special camera that captures the images from the spirit world. You learn of their adventures finding/seeing the spirits and about the food they eat along the way. It is a fun way to introduce the reader to Japanese culture and locations while waiting for the next ghost to appear. Nothing really too scary with the ghosts, but if you're child gets upset about the thought of ghosts/spirits out in the wild, perhaps you might want to wait a little before letting them read this. With a twelve year-old myself, that wasn't a problem for us. Just a cautionary note, really.

The graphic artwork is typical manga, bright and colorful for the most part, though dark and dreary when necessary, too, as these are spirits of the dead we're reading about here. I'm no art expert, but the art seems to be done with colored pencils and watercolors, providing enough detail when necessary to get the point across.

If you've never visited Japan, you'll appreciate that the book takes you to real but atypical places around the country, kind of like a historical fiction novel, but in present day, not fifty or so years ago. You may recognize some of the location names, but more than likely your child will be learning about areas they may never have heard of inside the country. How many cities in Japan can you name? After reading the book, your child may be able to best you at that.

I've always been a fan of manga titles, especially those that try to teach something. Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter is no exception. Yes, the reader gets to read about ancient spirit foxes and ghouls in this paranormal adventure in Japan, but the book is just as likely to teach you about Japan itself, too, just don't try to find the ghosts for yourself in country if you were to follow their adventurous path.

Order a copy of the book yourself for just over $10 at Amazon.



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