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The Giving Chair (Douzo no Isu)

The Giving Chair (Douzo no Isu) by Yoshiko Kouyama is a picture book for young children. It is a good book to read to infants and toddlers. Children in the lower elementary grades are able to read the book themselves. The text is large and bold for easy reading. The beautiful illustrations by Kozo Kakimoto are fuzzy and warm. The story takes place in the fall of the year. The artist uses colors of the season: brown, orange, yellow and red. The illustrations makes this a fine picture book for discussing autumn beauty.

The Giving Chair (Douzo no Isu) teaches children a valuable life lesson. The author uses animals to tell the story. Children easily identify with animals. They will love the book’s cuddly ones. Yoshiko Kouyama’s picture book teaches children about receiving, sharing and giving.

A rabbit makes a small chair. And, she places the chair and a sign under a large tree, before leaving the area. The sign says, “Help yourself.” A series of animals walks by the chair. First, a donkey comes along and see the chair. The donkey reads the sign and places a basket of acorns on the chair. He considers the chair as kind due to the sign. The tired donkey falls asleep on the far side of the tree.

A bear comes along and reads the sign. “Help yourself.” He decides to do so and eats the acorns in the basket. Now, this bear is a polite bear. He leaves a jar of honey to replace the eaten acorns. Happy that he replaced the gift with a gift of his own, the bear returns to the forest. This good bear considers the forest animals to follow him.

Next, a fox strides past the chair on which the basket containing the jar of honey sits. “Help yourself," reads the fox and he precedes to do so. This little fox thinks of others, too. He is happy to receive the jar of honey. In appreciation, he gives two loaves of bread for the next animal who will follow.

A group of squirrels ambles by and read the sign. They decide to partake of the bread. Oh, the squirrels enjoy the meal of bread. Now, the squirrels fill the empty basket with chestnuts. They give their bounty to the basket owner. The squirrels freely take and give.

The Giving Chair (Douzo no Isu) ends with the donkey awakening from his slumber. The donkey looks in the basket and finds it filled with chestnuts. He decides he must have picked chestnuts instead of acorns. The little donkey takes his basket and continues to his home.

The picture book is about thinking about others. The bear, fox and the squirrels considered the feelings of others. They knew the following animals would feel bad to find an empty basket. Most important, the forest animals felt good to give back. This is a good lesson for the children to learn. Giving and receiving is a beautiful thing. Throughout life, children will receive offerings, but they should give something back.

The picture book is very popular in Japan. Children around the world will enjoy the book. The book comes with a CD. The narrator reads the entire story on the first track. The following tracks contain an audio for each page. A twinkling bell signals the children to turn the page. A CD holder is attached to the book. This makes it easy to keep the book and CD together. There are
many other publishing companies who should adopt this practice.

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Note: The Giving Chair by Yoshiko Kouyama review book was received from the publisher.

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