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on July 30, 2005
This book is a true-life account of the author and so I've classified it under the genre of fiction. This heartwarming story tells of the endearing childhood recollections that of the author Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. Tetsuko Kuroyanagi was nicknamed Totto-chan and this story was set in the era of Japan in World War II.
She was quite a handful as a child, not paying attention in class and disrupting the other students by her quirky actions such as looking out of the window (during class) just to keep a look out for street musicians.
AND, when the street musician did finally passed her class, she gaily invited them to come in to her class much to the annoyance of her teacher. As a result, she was punished, and eventually she was even expelled from that school at *hold your breath* first grade.
So, one can imagine her to be a naughty girl, but what she is really is a curious and creative girl. The headmaster of her NEW school sees that in her because like Totto-chan, the headmaster himself is one creative lad who implemented unorthodox teaching methods for the children.
Just some of the creative teaching methods:
~ children were taught planting by a farmer. Here, the Headmaster also taught the children the value of respecting others by giving credit to the farmer by proudly calling the farmer the student's "farmer teacher"
~ usage of haikus for the students
~ eurythmic whereby children will do their so-called physical fitness leassons with music as accompaniment
~ starting the class with the subjects that the students are comfortable with
In short, this story is a must read for all people irregardless of age, race and gender. Young kids will marvel at the atmosphere of the school and envy Totto-chan for having a wonderful Headmaster who'll do his best to make learning as fun as possible for the students.
For those working adults, this feel good story will make you reminisce yoursweet childhood memories, where life in those days was much simpler sans datelines et al.
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on October 11, 2002
Totto-chan is a girl.The book talks about her life in her new school,Tomoe. She had been expelled from her previous school at her first grade. Her teacher had complained of Totto-chan disrupting the class. For example, she would open and close the lid of her table with a loud bang many times a day or she would go to the window and invite the street musicians over.
Totto-chan found Tomoe interesting and she liked the school. She met new friends and found that Tomoe always had something new. During lunchtime, the school of about 50 pupils would sit together and sing a song that went:
"Chew,chew, chew it well,
Everthing you eat;
Chew it and chew it and chew it and chew it,
Your rice and fish and meat!"
After that, the headmaster would go around to see whether all the children had brought something from the ocean and something from the hills. Some other activities included "the bravery test" and "trip to a hot spring". They could also stay overnight when they wanted to see the library arrived. There was also a camp that was held at Tomoe and the tents were pitched in the hall.
If you like realistic fiction with adventures and something different from most other books, you might want to try Totto-Chan.
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on June 27, 2002
I received this book as a gift from a pen pal in Japan about fifteen years ago, and recently found it on Amazon - so I had to buy copies of it for all of my friends. This is a very sweet, simple book and it is also a true story of the author, who is a famous television personality in Japan. The story is written very simply, and it would not be inappropriate for a child, yet not too simplified for an adult. The story begins when Totto-chan, the heroine of the story, is on her way to a new school after being expelled from her old school (she does not find out about the expulsion until years later). The new school is a progressive school which does things in a different way, and treats children differently, teaching them to see the world in a new way. The book is filled with side splitting funny stories, and a few touching ones as well. When you finish reading it, (it won't take long) it will bring a tear to your eye, but make you smile, and make you feel better for having read it. Check it out - I promise you won't be disappointed.
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on June 4, 2002
This simple, funny, and moving collection of memories of an elementary school in WW2 Japan tells the story of a headmaster's boundless and unshakeable love for children, and of his unorthodox approach to educating them. The author (the grown-up Totto-Chan) was a student in the "classroom train" at Tomoe Gakuen, and is now a popular talk show host in Japan. She has written about the escapades and life's lessons she experienced in elementary school. The simple and ingenuous style affects the reader physically (goosebumps, a lump in the throat, blinking away tears, and things of that nature). The illustrations, which were made years before the book was written, are not just beautiful but also amazingly apt. The translation does not jar - remarkable feat for a book that so liberally recalls haiku, lyrics, and folklore. Besides the headmaster's love for children and Totto-Chan's love for talking, the book is also about the students' love for their headmaster, their deep gratitude for his vision, and the author's efforts perpetuate that vision through her book. This book is for readers of all ages and cultures.
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on May 1, 2001
I'm 14 and in 8th grade. I recommend "Totto-chan The Girl at the Window" to any age, any kind of people if they can read English or Japanese. I'm not recommending this book just because I'm Japanese, but because I think it's a really easy book to read. Maybe, some people won't like it that much because it's not a book that makes you excited, romantic, or horrifyed. But I think no one will hate it. It take place in Jiyugaoka, Tokyo during World War 2. The sory is fiction, however, it's about the auther's real life when she was in first to second grade. I think the innocent girl Totto-chan tought me many kinds of things, especially about friendship and innocence. I think for every chapter there's a moral, but I think most were things I had learned in the past, however forgot them. It reminded me of all the feelings I experienced when I was little and can't experience any more. I think this book is full of these kinds of things I mentioned. It makes us flash back to the little discoveries, little adventures which non-innocent people can't experience anymore. It reminds us of something that doesn't really effect our usual lives, however, it's a really important thing which we just forgot. You might think that it's a boring book, but that's not true. Just try it.
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on October 5, 2000
This book consists of Tetsuko Kuroyanagi's childhood of a very unusual school with a very woderful headmaster. Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is one of Japan's most popular television personality and the daughter of a reowned violinist.
The elementary school that Kuroyanagi went to after being expelled from her first, during first grade, was very different from other schools. Tomoe Gakuen had railroad cars for classrooms. What was more amazing about this school was the man who ran it, the headmaster: Sosaku Kobayashi. He believed that children should be given the freedom to express and do the things that they want. During lesson time at Tomoe, students did not have to follow a strict timetable but were given the choice to study what they prefer. So it is not unusual to see a class of students doing different things at a time. Mr. Kobayashi gave encouragement to all of his students, taught them confidence and made them learn through the simplicity of daily events. Kuroyanagi's mother was also an admirable character, beside the headmaster, in making what Kuroyanagi was today, through her role of a very supportive mother.
This book was not written with a storyline but was divided into small segments telling readers of events that happened under a title. I found many parts of the book humourous because of the many funny things the Kuroyanagi did. I believe that many of you would enjoy this book. Unique!
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on October 18, 2003
It's really a good book! Tetsuko Kuroyangi (Totto Chan) is so impressed by her former unusual elementary school which were classroom trains and its headmaster who taught the students in different ways and had a vision of child's education in different angle. She wants to share her memories, during World War II, to all readers how she and her friends really enjoyed being in that school and how very kind and wise her headmaster was. First day in that school Totto Chan began to like the headmaster for he can be the one she could trust to. Totto Chan also learnt many things in her childhood's life such as happiness, love, curiousity, friendship, appreciating nature and music, separation, and also sadness. It's such an enchanting book for all ages and all times and so inspiring for educators. Thanks to Dorothy Britton as the english translator who successfully maintains the sense of Japanese in the story.
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on March 27, 2004
The book is enchanting, a tale of a little girl who gained so much lessons in her early years. Despite all of the chaos other people might had at that time (pre-World War II), she could managed to live her life to its full extent. With helps from people around her, in a really simple way, Totto-chan surely got a really beautiful childhood worth to remember for the rest of her life.
This book gave me a new point of seeing my life as it is. This book absolutely will lead you to Totto-chan's world of sincerity and simplicity, make you laugh for its naivette and shed tears for its bittersweetness at a time! It will also tell you about the importance of letting yourself loose in your dreams and efforts to make them come true. It will evoke your spirit to change the world to be a better place to live.
I'll keep this book as a legacy to my future children. I really will. And you should too.
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on June 12, 2001
It is an ausome book which features the life of a young, innocent Japanese girl during World War 2. She was expelled from her first school when she was in Grade 1, for disrupting the class by making lots of noise in many ways. The girl left for another school (Tomoe) thinking that her very understanding mother had chosen to leave the school on her on will. Her new school was very unique as its classrooms were actually discarded railroad cars. The headmaster himself was very different from other headmasters. He had looked at education from a different angle altogether. He understood children very well and was a father-figure to Totto-Chan and all the children of the school. The book is divided into many chapters and nearly every chapter teaches a lesson. The book can be read by anybody as it has a mixture of elation,sorrow and adventure.
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on January 3, 2000
A heart-warming, and delightful collection of true stories of young Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, a famous television personality in Japan. It begins when Totto-chan ( Tetsuko's nick name) was expelled from the first grade because of her disruptive behaviour. She was then transferred to a very unique school ran by a headmaster who had his own teaching philosophy. The school itself was not in a building but in discarded railroad cars. The book also includes other adventures Totto-chan had been involved in, and also previews what life had been like as a small child in Japan during the outbreak of World War II. I recomend this book to parents, and teachers because of Mr. Kobayashi- the headmaster's philosophy of education. It also makes fun reading for children, as I myself have had this book since I was twelve years old.
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