Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2013
Dodsworth and the duck continue their world travel adventures in Dodsworth in Tokyo. Dodsworth teaches the duck to bow to greet people and how to say “thank you” in Japanese. They visit the Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace and see a girl playing with a kendama (wooden toy) in Yoyogi Park.
Duck manages to be well-behaved in the park (where he recovers the toy that the girl has left behind) and at a sushi restaurant (which he likes because he doesn't have to wear shoes). But he bumps into a rickshaw in Shibuya, falls into a pond in the East Gardens (which is a problem, because he can't swim) and knocks over a tray of wagashi (dessert) in their hotel room.
He attracts the most attention when he bumps into some people carrying a shrine during the Sanja Festival. Everything goes silent as the crowd eyes him disapprovingly, but peace is restored when the duck reveals that he was hurrying through the crowd to return the kendama to the little girl who lost it.
As with Tim Egan's other books, all of the characters are animals, dressed as people. The illustrations are brightly painted cartoons which help to elucidate the Japanese customs and venues described in the text.
Written in four chapters, this book is a little long for a read-aloud in one sitting, but would work just fine in segments for bedtime reading. The first-graders that I shared it with laughed at duck's clumsiness and enjoyed watching him eat sushi and playing the park, but did ask to take a break to read another book between chapter three and chapter four.
Overall, the Dodsworth books provide a fun general introduction to travel in foreign countries for young children and their families.
Tim Egan is the author and illustrator of several offbeat and humorous tales for children. Born in New Jersey, Tim moved to California to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He still lives in southern California with his wife, Ann, and their two sons. To learn more about Tim Egan, visit his Web site at www.timegan.com.
Renée Vaillancourt McGrath has worked at Montana Public Radio as a program host since 2002. Her background is in librarianship and she currently works as a freelance editor, blogger, and website developer. Check out more of her book reviews at reneesreads.com.