________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 41. . . .June 20, 2014


Peach Girl.

Raymond Nakamura. Illustrated by Rebecca Bender.
Toronto, ON: Pajama Press, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-927485-58-3.

Subject Heading:

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Reesa Cohen.

*** /4



One morning in old Japan, a farmer and her husband found a great big peach at their door.

“Well I never....,” said the farmer. “We only grow radishes.”

“I’m hungry,” said the husband.

“The let’s cut it open.” said the farmer.

But before the farmer could fetch the knife, the peach split apart and a girl hopped out.

“Hello,” she said. “My name is Momoko. I am here to make the world a better place.”

“Well I never...,” said the farmer.

‘But it’s cold out there. You need some clothes.”

The farmer and her husband brought the girl and the peach inside.

The farmer peeled the skin off the peach to make clothes for the girl.

‘Peachy,” said Momoko. “Now I’m ready to go.”


Although delighted with Momoko’s appearance, the farmer and her husband fear for her safety. He warns Momoko of the dangerous ogre, but undaunted, this plucky young girl has only concern – to improve the world. The couple make good use of the peach girl’s birth place to fashion a helmet and shield for protection and the peach flesh, itself, to make peach dumplings for food to sustain her on this ambitious quest. Along the way, Momoko enlists the help of a monkey, a dog, and a pheasant, wisely using the peach dumplings as an enticement. All three recruits give the peach girl ominous warnings of the ogre’s large size, his sharp teeth and the eyes that “shoot flames”, with an emphasis on the fact that “he eats small children”. The creative trio of animals and Momoko fashion a boat to transport them to the castle. The real fun starts when they come face to face with the dreaded ogre. Readers will enjoy the surprise, “peachy” ending.

internal art     This tale gets its inspiration from a popular piece of Japanese folklore, The Peach Boy, the Legend of Momotaro. It is said to be ancient Japan’s equivalent of Superman, a cultural icon and hero for children and adults alike. Nakamura’s imaginative but slimmer version, features a gender twist and is lighter and somewhat quirky, with a fearless, daring heroine. But it is told with humour and charm, and the repetition lends a lyrical quality to the story.

      The expressive art captures both the amusing animals and characters. Bender’s illustrations enhance and mimic the energy of the lighthearted story. Painted in acrylics on illustration board with a textured surface, the results are wonderfully appealing pictures, many featuring softly coloured peachy tones, while others are brightly hued, lively in detail and highlight glorious landscapes.


Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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