Happy to announce that “Honda: The Boy Who Dreamed of Cars” has been converted into a chapter book for older readers! Illustrations are edited down from the original picture book version (also still in print) and now appear in black and white, but I am so happy that this book will now reach a broader group of readers!
“In a story that’s reminiscent of “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” a young mixed Japanese-white girl savors creating summer memories with her cousins.
“The night before the cousins came, I couldn’t sleep.” Country girl Lila is excited to host city cousins Rosie and Takeo, who sport hair styled in “two puffy balls” and “a little shark fin,” respectively. Her bucket list is full of simple pleasures, such as painting and camping outside. Luckily for her, her cousins are game, and they take turns teaching each other new things, such as skateboarding, riding a bike, and how to eat with chopsticks, “ ‘Hold them like this,’ said Takeo. I tried…and tried.” (The page offers four amusing scenes of Lila first awkwardly using the unfamiliar utensils and then finally gaining mastery.) Lila also introduces her cousins to fireflies. “ ‘What is that?!?’ asked Takeo. I caught a firefly and cupped it in my hands. The firefly bumped gently against the walls of my palms. ‘Just look,’ I whispered to Rosie.” Yamasaki uses deceptively simple, carefully chosen language for the brief blocks of text on each page. The rest of the story is told through her paintings, which are defined by bright brush strokes of color. The overall effect is a quiet story that captures all those small cherished moments in childhood.
“A rare find about family featuring a mixed-raced protagonist. (Picture book. 4-7)”
Read the review on kirkusreviews.com
“Yamasaki, who works as a muralist and educator, creates sweeping paintings that capture the story in a literal manner even as she makes bold metaphorical leaps. When the two boys lie in bed at night, the menacing shadows of the camp’s guard tower are imprinted on their blankets. The family stands poised on Taro’s reclining form, while the imagined torsos of F.B.I. agents loom in a forbidding muddy background. One of the most moving spreads shows Taro capturing fish in a river, each fish carrying a reclining Jimmy on its back.
The overall result is a dramatic, visual feast. And Yamasaki gives readers a reassuringly happy ending.”
– Pamela Paul, NY Times
Read the full review at nytimes.com
“Soichiro Honda was, in his own way, the Henry Ford of Japan. He became fascinated by automobiles from his very first sight of a Model T. Determined to learn everything possible about cars, he began as a cleaner in a garage and eventually became an expert mechanic with his own business. Later he designed racecars and manufactured car parts and airplane propellers. After World War II, he developed small motorcycles and started the Honda Motor Company, constantly adding improvements and innovations to his products and then designing and manufacturing fuel-efficient automobiles. Weston presents Honda as a perfectionist, an innovator in his field and a model corporate leader, who encouraged his workers, listened to them and treated them well. However, with the exception of a list of retirement activities, Honda’s life beyond business is nowhere to be found. Yamasaki’s detailed and whimsical acrylics add zest to the proceedings. A worthwhile introduction to a neglected subject.”
Read the full review on kirkusreviews.com