Yoko's Show-and-Tell

Yoko, an adorable Japanese-American kitten, is starring in her fourth picture book by Rosemary Wells, Yoko's Show-and-Tell (Hyperion, 2011).  In this one, Yoko's grandparents in Japan send her an antique doll for Girls' Day.  Yoko's mother says ("in her Big No voice") that Yoko may not take Miki to school for show-and-tell, but Yoko can't resist: "Everyone in my class will love you!" she said to Miki. "I will bring you right home, and Mama will never know!"

Well.  Miki ends up significantly worse for the wear after the Franks toss her around the school bus--she doesn't even make it to show-and-tell--and Yoko has to confess to her mother ("Do you still love me?"). They rush Miki to Dr. Kiroshura's Doll Hospital, and she's good as new by the time Obaasan and Ojiisan arrive for their springtime visit from Japan: "Obaasan admired Miki's new kimono. "She is so beautiful. And not one scratch after all these years!"

Yoko's Show-and-Tell is a quiet and lovely little book, just 9" square. It's economically told and always attuned to Yoko's feelings, which will be painfully familiar to anyone who has ever done something against her (or her mother's) better judgment.  I do think it could have ended with Obaasan's comment above; we don't really need to see the consequences for the Franks, only for Yoko.

Yoko herself is an exceptionally expressive kitten. Wells's illustrations combine ink-and-watercolor with patterned paper collage in small square panels, one to a page; the endpapers, featuring Miki in a variety of kimonos, are especially cheerful and cute. Look for this one if you, like me, love Yoko's Paper Cranes (2001) and traditional Japanese art and culture. Just in time for Girls' Day on March 3!