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Bamboo Hats and a Rice Cake by Ann Tompert
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Bamboo Hats and a Rice Cake

by Ann Tompert

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A tale set in Japan, this multi cultural book is a story of a couple who lives in the mountains, it is tradition that they have rice cakes coming into the new year. They were not wealthy so the old man had to take his wife’s kimono into town to sell for money to get rice cakes. He was unfortunate in his trades but ended up with bamboo hats, out of the kindness of his heart. On his journey back he placed his hats on statues leaving him home with nothing in return. Due to good karma the statues brought an abundance of rice cakes to the family.

This has to be my favorite book that I’ve read recently, it had a good life lesson on karma. It also gave certain words in kanji and repeatedly used it. I am one for Japanese culture so I would definitely recommend this children’s book.

1. have a Japanese style potluck and learn more on the culture.

2. assimilate a Japanese style play for the students to participate in.
  MWsmith7 | Mar 26, 2015 |
Summary:A poor, elderly couple from Japan have endured a hard winter and need to buy food. The wife tells her husband to sell her wedding kimono at the village market to buy rice cakes for the new year. The old man passes a shrine with six statues on it and promises them an offering when he returns. Throughout his day at market, the old man encounters many strangers with needs of their own and continually trades with them for lesser objects. On his way home, the elderly man gives all he has to the statues as tribute. That night the statues leave an enormous rice cake for the couple that kept them fed for a long time, and the couple had good fortune the rest of their lives.

Personal Reaction: I enjoyed the Japanese characters inserted with the text. It gives the reader a chance to familiarize themselves with another language. The story of the old man's generosity and selflessness shows that good deeds should not be done only for personal gain.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1) The students can make "bamboo hats" from craft materials.
2) The teacher could bring in traditional rice cakes to share with the students.
3) The students could practice making the Japanese characters with watercolor paints. ( )
  Sara.rivera | Aug 27, 2013 |
Bamboo Hats and a Rice Cake is a tale of an old Japanese couple that has run out of rice cakes to celebrate the New Year. They need the rice cakes to eat to help bring good fortune for the next year. They decide to sell the wife’s wedding kimono to get the rice cakes. The husband makes a trip to the village to do so, but on his way he discovers a shrine with six statues of Jizo, the protector of children, and promises to bring back an offering. The man continues to town, and along the way he makes a trade for some fans. After he makes various trades, the old man finally ends up with five bamboo hats and no rice cakes. On his way home he give the five hats and his own hat to the Jizo statues and returns home with nothing, but his kindness to the shrines gives him good fortune.

The Japanese culture is so intriguing to me, and I really enjoyed learning some new things about Japanese traditions. I also loved how the author used Japanese symbols in the text. The margins of the book defined each symbol. The illustrations were also culturally correct. The way the pictures are placed in the book are how you would find them in traditional Japanese text.

An extension idea would be to use this book in a unit on how different cultures celebrate the New Year. This book would demonstrate how important rice is to the Japanese culture and New Year celebration. Another idea would to use it in a lesson on the different religions around the world. This book would help define Buddhism.
  jredway | Oct 25, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 051759272X, Hardcover)

Illustrated with fine texture and elegant line, this striking folktale imparts the virtues of human kindness, humility and generosity. Throughout, key words appear in Japanese characters, with English translations in the page margins, and a pronunciation guide at the end of the book. Full-color illustrations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:50 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Wishing to have good fortune in the new year, an old man tries to trade his wife's kimono for rice cakes. Characters from the Japanese alphabet are incorporated into the text.

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