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Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window

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Wikipedia article

'Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window' is a children's book written by Japanese television personality and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The book was published originally as in 1981, and became an instant bestseller in Japan. The book is about the values of the unconventional education that Kuroyanagi received at Tomoe Gakuen, a Tokyo elementary school founded by educator Sosaku Kobayashi during World War II, and it is considered her childhood memoir.

The Japanese name of the book is an expression used to describe people who have failed.

Plot synopsis

The book begins with Totto-chan's mother coming to know of her daughter's expulsion from public school. Her mother realizes that what Totto-chan needs is a school where more freedom of expression is permitted. Thus, she takes Totto-chan to meet the headmaster of the new school, Mr. Kobayashi. From that moment a friendship is formed between master and pupil.

The book goes on to describe the times that Totto-chan has, the friends she makes, the lessons she learns, and the vibrant atmosphere that she imbibes. All of these are presented to the reader through the eyes of a child. Thus the reader sees how the normal world is transformed into a beautiful, exciting place full of joy and enthusiasm. The reader also sees in their role as adults, how Mr. Kobayashi introduces new activities to interest the pupils. One sees in Mr. Kobayashi a man who understands children and strives to develop their qualities of mind, body and heart. His concern for the physically handicapped and his emphasis on the equality of all children are remarkable. In the school, the children lead happy lives, unaware of the things going on in the world. World War 2 has started, yet in this school, no signs of it are seen. But one day, the school is bombed, and was never rebuilt, even though the headmaster claimed that he looked forward to building an even better school the next time round. It was never done and this ends Totto-chan's years as a pupil at Tomoe Gakuen.

Publication history

*1981, Japan, Kodansha Publishers Ltd., ISBN 4-7700-1010-9, Pub date 1981, Paperback

*1984, Japan, Kodansha International, ISBN 0-87011-537-5, Pub date 1984, Paperback

'Totto-chan' was originally published in Japan as a series of articles in Kodansha's 'Young Woman' magazine appearing from February 1979 through December 1980. The articles were then collected into a book, which made Japanese publishing history by selling more than 5 million before the end of 1982, which made the book break all previous publishing records and become the bestselling book in Japanese history[

An English edition, translated by Dorothy Britton, was published in America in 1984. The book has been translated into a number of languages, including Chinese, French, Italian, German, Korean, Malay, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, Russian, Uyghur, Sinhala, and Lao, and many Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, Kannada, Assamese, Kannada, and Malayalam.

A bilingual collection of stories from the book, entitled 'Best of Totto-chan: Totto Chan: The Little Girl at the Window', was published in 1996.

Related works

Kuroyanagi founded the Totto-chan Foundation, which professionally trains deaf actors to bring live theater to the deaf community.

In 1999, Kuroyanagi published her book 'Totto-Chan's Children: A Goodwill Journey to the Children of the World', about her travels around the world on her humanitarian mission as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

An orchestral interpretation of the work was written by Japanese composer Akihiro Komori, which was released as a record.


Book References

Category:1981 novels

Category:Japanese novels

Category:Autobiographical novels

Category:Children's novels

Category:Novels set in Tokyo

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