What do you do when a series of books you are supposed to review are so beautiful, so creative, so artistic and so imaginative, that you can’t summon up the words it would take to describe it?
This is the quandary I find myself in over a series of books about Kokeshi dolls by author Annelore Parot. I received copies of Kimonos, Yumi & Kokeshi Notecards from Chronicle Books for review, and frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t pass out from lack of oxygen; what with all the gasping I did as I leafed through them.
Kokeshi (Koh-Keh-Shi) are traditional Japanese dolls, usually fashioned out of wood. In the book Kimonos, Parot introduces us to the world of her Kokeshi — each doll tells you a little bit about herself, and you learn a little Japanese along the way. The books are highly interactive, with flaps everywhere revealing more and more gorgeous images and fun little matching games. One of these Kokeshi is Yumi – and in her book, we find out more about what it’s like in her Tokyo world — the things she likes to do and the friends she spends time with.
I sincerely hope that Parot plans to release a book about each Kokeshi we were introduced to in Kimonos. One of the first things I did after I received these books was look for more. I bought Aoki, and it’s just as gorgeous as the others. Aoki is another one of the Kokeshi we’re introduced to in Kimonos. In her story, we learn that she lives in Kyoto, she always wears cherries in her hair, and she’s about to take a bullet train to Tokyo to visit her friend Yoko – another Kokeshi. Once again, there are flaps to lift, things to discover or find, and games to play. We match the luggage of each rider on the train to the kimono or obi they are wearing. We find Yoko’s apartment by finding the curtains that are the same pattern as her kimono, we fly colorful carp flags and drink cold green tea with our sushi lunch.
I thought these books would be wonderful to read with Vivienne. But once they were in my hands, I’m not ashamed to admit that I totally hoarded them on my desk for a long while. I would pick them up and drink them in, the colors, the patterns, the pretty details of the cherry blossoms, and then tear myself away. I lied to myself and said I was doing this because they might be a little above Vivienne’s age right now. But here, under the watchful eye of the internet, I am ready to admit it was because I was scared she would accidentally rip them! WHAT KIND OF MOTHER DOES THAT? What am I? A five year old? Whenever I briefly considered showing them to her, I changed my mind and very seriously thought about buying A SECOND SET. You know, just IN CASE they got ripped. I’m going to blame this childish behavior on the fact that I am a Libra with Virgo rising. That’s like a perfect storm right there, huh? A PRETTY thing that must be KEPT IN ORDER. I didn’t stand a chance. Plus, I’d much rather blame the alignment of the planets than own up to the fact that I was being a freaking weirdo.
Remember when I said I had no words to describe how lovely these books are? The best I can muster is to say that if I had endless money to spend on lovely books, I truly would buy a second set of this series — so I could frame every page and hang it on the wall. And in fact, that’s the worst thing I can say about these books: It’s a shame they are books and must stay closed, because it’s such a tragedy to lock such art away. A tragedy!
I finally relented, and sat down with Vivienne to read them. Guess what? She loves them. She loves peeking behind all the panels, playing the guessing games, pointing out the details, discussing all the characters. They’ve been in heavy rotation ever since. And no, she hasn’t ripped or destroyed a single panel, page or pop out. And if she did, I’d take the part that ripped and have it framed.
1 thought on “An Exquisite Look at the World of Kokeshi”
Those look LOVELY and I would like to hoard them as well. 😉 But, my 6yo daughter loves all Kawaii things, so I will probably share. Thanks!
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