The Big Bath House

Random House Studio. Nov. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593181959.
Gr 3-5–A young Japanese girl visits her baachan, or grandmother, and enjoys the shared experience of the big bath house, the community bathing spot. The narrator remarks on the feeling of seeing women comfortable in their bodies and empowered in this moment. An end note conveys the autobiographical nature of the story and how it shaped the author’s view of women’s bodies and celebratory way of being. This story exudes freedom and joy, which children will appreciate. The illustrations are colorful in their depictions of Japanese clothing, settings, and culture, and will invite children into discussions. The nudity is developmentally appropriate for mid-elementary students, though the book may be more suitable for family or one-on-one sharing than classroom use.
VERDICT This is a warm celebration of a particular aspect of culture that may still be unfamiliar to some children, and which skillfully incorporates Japanese words and phrases.

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