Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence (review)
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Reviewed by
Florence, Debbi Michiko Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen; illus. by Elizabet Vuković. Farrar, 2017 [128p] (Jasmine Toguchi)
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30410-2 $15.99
Paper ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30834-6 $5.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30412-6 $4.25
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-4

In the first book in a new series, it’s New Year’s, Jasmine Toguchi’s favorite holiday, and her grandmother comes to visit from Japan to help make mochi, so they can ring in the New Year with good luck by eating the sticky rice dessert at midnight. The family rules say that you have to be ten to help with mochi-tsuki, though, and Jasmine still has two years to go; however, Jasmine decides to ask her dad to let her join him and her uncles to help pound the mochi rice into sticky dough, giving her an unexpected new role. Jasmine’s love for her family and their traditions shines through in her narration even as she complains about her sister and questions the sexism of the gendered division of labor for mochi-tsuki. Vuković’s dynamic line and ink wash drawings break up the text and build on it with extra details, from a detailed sketch of Jasmine’s bedroom to spot illustrations showing Obaachan’s home in Hiroshima and her cousins’ in San Francisco. Back matter includes an author’s note about traditional and modern methods for making mochi and a simplified recipe to make it in the microwave. The Toguchi family’s warmth and affection for one another will leave readers eager to spend more time with them.

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