Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 02/01/2018 PreS-Gr 2—A little girl with a big personality finds the perfect way to channel her energy in this cheerful picture book. Natsumi is constantly on the go, despite her family's admonitions that she's too fast and too loud. Her enthusiastic efforts to join them in practicing traditional Japanese arts for the upcoming village festival result in minor disasters. Her grandfather is the only one who understands her; in a satisfying conclusion, he guides her toward taiko drumming, a thunderously loud activity that allows her to express herself while taking part in the festival. Bright, bold illustrations deftly capture Natsumi's exuberance, and the prose is sprinkled with sound effects, making for an engaging read-aloud. The author occasionally relies on tropes to indicate the contemporary Japanese setting; references to sumo wrestling, samurai warriors, and "ninja moves" feel designed for a Western audience with limited exposure to Japanese culture. Although the setting lacks some nuance, this book presents a positive introduction to traditional arts such as tea ceremony and flower arranging, and has a great deal to offer in its affirming message about being oneself. Many young readers will relate to Natsumi's experience of being told to keep herself in check, and will cheer her on when she finds her niche in taiko drumming. VERDICT An appealing addition to picture book collections and a good conversation-starter about individuality.—Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Booklist - 02/01/2018 *Starred Review* It’s immediately evident that Natsumi cannot be contained: she splashes puddles on the front cover and does handstands on the end pages. Everything she does, from practicing ninja moves to slurping noodles, she does “in a big way.” Her enthusiastic efforts draw criticism from her family as they prepare for a Japanese festival (“Not so fast, Natsumi!”). But grandfather finds just the right spot for her talent, and Natsumi shines. While the story reflects many aspects of Japanese culture (the tea ceremony, flower arranging, the lighting of the festival, kimonos worn on special occasions), Burris’ generic background illustrations make it so this story could be set anywhere there is a loving family with a rambunctious child. Lendroth describes Natsumi as just a girl with lots of energy and spunk who throws herself into everything, while Burris portrays her in joyous action. The multigenerational nature of the family adds to the warmth of the story. The illustrations focus on brightness, whether it is from the white space behind our human dynamo or the lights of homes and festival activities. Natsumi’s constant companion, a pet dinosaur, fits her personality and can be a source of discovery for careful readers. A joyful experience from beginning to end. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.

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