Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll – Picture Book Friday

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yukoTitle: Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll – The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl who saves her Village.

Written and illustrated by Sunny Seki

Published by Tuttle Publishing, 2012, (NB. Tuttle is the world’s largest publisher of books in Asia)

Bilingual edition: Japanese/English

Themes: Blindness, Japan, courage, community

Ages: 7-10

Opening lines:

In Japan, there is an active volcano called Mount Asama. Two hundred years ago it errupted into flames. It the shot out ashes that covered the surrounding villages and damaged the crops.

In the village of Takasaki, there lived an orphaned blind girl who stayed at the Daruma Temple. her name was Yuko-Chan, or Warm Water Girl, because she had such a warm, gentle personality.


“Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll, a gorgeous book by author/illustrator Sunny Seki, takes readers on a journey into ancient Japan and the story behind the famous Daruma Doll.

Yuko-chan, an adventurous blind orphan, is able to do amazing things. She confronts a temple burglar in the dead of night, and crosses treacherous mountain passes to deliver food to hungry people. During her travels, Yuko-chan trips and tumbles down a snowy cliff. She discovers a strange thing as she waits for help: her tea gourd, regardless of how she drops it, always lands right-side-up. The tea has frozen in the bottom of the gourd! Inspired by this, she creates the famous Daruma doll toy, which rights itself when tipped—a true symbol of resilience.

Thanks to Yuko-chan’s invention, the villagers are able to earn a living and feed themselves by selling the dolls. Yuko-chan never gave up, no matter the obstacles she faced, and the Daruma doll is a charming reminder of the power of perseverance.” (from publisher’s website)

Why I like this book:

Spunk and humour, this book is full of both. Often books about cultures very different to our own are hard for children to relate to. The text and illustrations are overflowing with information about Japan, but with the comic illustrative style and courageous heroine, the cultural insights will be readily absorbed by readers. i do recommend this, though, for an older age group, due to the length and series of stories within the book. A  spirit of hope and survival against the odds spring from the pages. Another great multicultural classroom addition!


There is a page of helpful cultural notes at the back of the book.

Video about the book

Video about the traditional making of the Daruma Doll.

Daruma Doll lesson plans and games for kids.



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5 Responses to Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll – Picture Book Friday

  1. This is book is a gem! What a beautiful story about resilience and hope. I love multicultural stories that highlight cultural stories. Wasn’t familiar with the Daruma doll toy and was fascinated by the videos you shared. I bet Nessa Morris on Opening a Can of Bookworms would love this story. Great choice!

  2. Cathy Mealey says:

    So glad you highlighted this story Joanna. When Tuttle had a call for submissions several months ago, this was one of the books that I read to get a feel for their catalog. A really lovely book. I agree with your recommendation re: older readers. Nice list of resources too!

  3. Sunny Seki says:

    Dear Joanna, Thank you for your positive and constructive review of my book. I am so impressed with all the interests and endeavors you have pursued! I am happy that you like Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll, and I invite you to view my other two books (The Tale of the Lucky Cat, The Last Kappa of Old Japan) as well. You can see them on my website, and you can also read my interview on the website of Papertigers, who chose my book for their 2012 Book Set. http://www.papertigers.org/interviews/archived_interviews/sseki.html

  4. Rhythm says:

    A blind girl with a dog! A book that I really need to check into! I’ve never heard of a Daruma doll, but they sound pretty unique and fun. And I think that it would be pretty cool to have Japanese and English both to tell the story. Thanks for sharing this book. It’s going on my wish list!

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