Visit Japan with Neko the Cat!



By Sam Ita (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2021, 12 pp., $22.99, hard cover)

“Japan Pop-Up Book” is the follow-up to Sam Ita’s “Tokyo Pop-Up Book.” It chronicles the adventures of Chico and his cat Neko. Chico is a young hapa teen who lives with his relatives in Japan. In this book, Neko the Cat stows away on a bullet train and leads Chico to several of Japan’s most iconic sights. 

Ita combines comic-style storytelling with detailed illustrations and paper engineering to entertain and educate children and adults about Japan’s history and culture. There is much to see on each page in the comic frames and pop-ups. Children will have fun looking closely at the illustrations to see if they can spot Neko the Cat. Tip: Look on the front and back of the pop-ups.

The full-page spread of Hiroshima shows Ita’s talent as both illustrator and storyteller. Chico stands at the foot of the Children’s Peace Monument, gazing up. He recognizes “the Sadako Memorial.” The narrator tells us the story of Sadako Sasaki and the thousand paper cranes. Sadako was one of the many young victims of the atom bomb. The story of her life and early death inspired the global peace movement. Chico makes a personal connection, thinking, “She was about my age.” From that simple comment, we know that Chico understands many children suffered and died due to the bombing of Hiroshima. 

If you’re looking for a fun, unique introduction to famous Japanese places or you’re a pop-up book aficionado, I recommend this book. 


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