meet annelore parot’s kokeshi

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30 DAYS OF PB 2013 aDay Twenty-Four: Kokeshi Kimonos Book 

by Annelore Parot

Chronicle Books, 2011.

kokeshi_kimonos_1“With a padded cover and slickly designed pages, this interactive book introduces traditional kokeshi dolls, popular in Japan. Rendered in manga style, the dolls wear kimonos; readers are invited to help one kokeshi select her kimono, assist another as she samples new hairstyles, and lift flaps to locate another kokeshi’s apartment. With a clean aesthetic and diminutive animal friends throughout, it provides an insider’s view into a gentle world of dress up. All ages. (Sept.)” Publishers Weekly

Browsing the shelves, it wasn’t only that Kimonos was faced outward, but it stood out. You can guess why…and it isn’t only because my eye is drawn to red. Once I had it in hand, I knew it was coming home with me. I love these interactive books. And well, I do love pretty things. Kimonos is pretty. Annelore Parot, is not afraid of color and patterns. Her choices alone recommend a lingering look, but most of the activities require an attention to details.

Kokeshi_Kimono_interior-2-1-475x478

There are games of differentiation and matching and memory. There are lifting flaps and turning of pages that engage the reader/listener interact in the layering of the story. The educational quality includes translations of Japanese words as well as an introduction/exploration of cultural dress and relationships. Playing dress up usually involves a scenario that reflect social/cultural scripts and Parot optimizes this.

Kokeshi-Kimonos-Annelore-Parot-2Kokeshi-Kimonos-Annelore-Parrot-3

{of the bottom image: the two characters in their apartments are who you see when lifting the flap; on the flaps are text.}

We meet different Kokeshi characters in Kimonos, but French author/illustrator Annelore Parot has a series of Kokeshi books and products, Aoki (below) is just one I happened to find on the shelf. There is also a Kokeshi club site. These would have been dangerous for me when Natalya was young.

aoki coverAoiki (a Kokeshi book) by Annelore Parot

Chronicle Books, 2012

“Meet Aoki She may be the smallest Kokeshi, but Aoki’s infectious enthusiasm can make anyone laugh. On her whirlwind trip to Tokyo, she will ride a high-speed train, dance under cherry blossom trees, and visit a zen garden. With sneak-peek flaps, fun die-cuts, and lavish gatefolds, this interactive exploration will enchant Kokeshi fans of all sizes.” –publisher’s comments

aoki4

aoki interiorThere are even more flaps, memory games, translations, and ways to keep the reader/listener on every page. While Parot constructs a story to follow, it is not so tight that the book couldn’t be picked up or set aside depending on time or interest. It could easily work as a quiet activity book, but I think, like Kimonos, this is one to play with together–because one, it is fun; and two, there is no answer key. This one is good for early grade school. It is doll-play. But even so, use this as an excuse to interact with that lovely child in your life.

{*books are translated into English; images belong to Annelore Parot}

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