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The Big Bath House
Cover of The Big Bath House
The Big Bath House
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A joyful celebration of Japanese cultural traditions and body positivity as a young girl visits a bath house with her grandmother and auntiesNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY New York Public...
A joyful celebration of Japanese cultural traditions and body positivity as a young girl visits a bath house with her grandmother and auntiesNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY New York Public...
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Description-

  • A joyful celebration of Japanese cultural traditions and body positivity as a young girl visits a bath house with her grandmother and aunties
    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY New York Public LibraryNPRPublishers WeeklyKirkus ReviewsHorn BookThe American Library Association • ALA Rise: A Feminist Book Project

    You'll walk down the street / Your aunties sounding like clip-clopping horses / geta-geta-geta / in their wooden sandals / Until you arrive... / At the bath house / The big bath house.
    In this celebration of Japanese culture and family and naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, join a little girl—along with her aunties and grandmother—at a traditional bath house. Once there, the rituals leading up to the baths begin: hair washing, back scrubbing, and, finally, the wood barrel drumroll. Until, at last, it's time, and they ease their bodies—their creased bodies, newly sprouting bodies, saggy, jiggly bodies—into the bath. Ahhhhhh!
     
    With a lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book is based on Kyo Maclear's loving memories of childhood visits to Japan, and is an ode to the ties that bind generations of women together.
 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Kyo Maclear is a critically acclaimed author whose books have received starred reviews, appeared on numerous "Best of" lists, and been published in multiple languages around the world. One of her picture books, Virginia Wolf, has been adapted for the stage, and another, Julia, Child, is currently being adapted into an animated television series. Visit her on the web at kyomaclear.com.
    Gracey Zhang is a freelance illustrator and animator. She graduated with her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her first author-illustrator picture book, Lala's Words, will be published in 2021 by Scholastic. Visit her on the web at graceyzhang.com.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    August 15, 2021
    Family, community, body positivity, and a nice hot bath--ahhhhh! A young international traveler with beige skin and straight dark hair eagerly greets her grandmother at Baachan's home in Japan. Accompanied by gregarious aunties with "big stories and bigger purses," she and Baachan visit the big bath house nearby and engage in a cultural, communal event: the Japanese bath. A soapy shower comes first so the women enter the bath clean. Then the girl joins all kinds of women--old and young, thin and fat--who are naked and thoroughly enjoying the hot water and female companionship. Together, the young girls dance while the women talk in this protected and private (yet public) space. Entering the pool, they all take "a chorus of one long breath. Ahhhhh." Beautifully loose-lined and delicately colored illustrations depict vibrant, earth-toned scenes so soaked with conversation and interaction that, if readers lean close, they might be able to listen in. Various skin tones and body shapes and sizes celebrate a broad spectrum of body diversity. Rhythmic, occasionally rhyming second-person narration invites young readers into the rollicking fun of the bath-house experience. The girl and Baachan understand each other without saying a word--a powerful metaphor for how this book can serve as a cultural bridge between Western and Eastern sensibilities of privacy and body positivity. (This book was reviewed digitally.) A must-have celebration of cultural understanding and community--and the joy of family. (glossary, author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 6, 2021
    Maclear (It Began with a Page) remembers with affection the local bathhouse her Baachan took her to during childhood visits to Japan. In bold black ink and wash drawings, Zhang (Lala’s Words) captures the girl’s arrival and the slow walk through the neighborhood as the child, her grandmother, and her aunties (who have “big stories and bigger purses”) stroll along in yukata, enter the bathhouse, and wash (“the aunties scrub each other’s backs”). Then everyone soaks in the hot water together, “a chorus of one long breath:// Ahhhhh.” Against a tile backdrop, dazzling candid portraits capture groups of nude girls and women of various ages, shapes, and skin tones sharing the big communal pool: “You’ll all dip your bodies,/ your newly sprouting,/ gangly bodies,/ your saggy, shapely,/ jiggly bodies,// your cozy, creased,/ ancient bodies./ Beautiful bodies.” Maclear and Zhang portray with great warmth the nourishment offered by this cultural institution, making clear to readers the ritual’s cozy, home-away-from-home feeling. In this treasured familial memory grounded in a specific place, tender nakedness resolves into an undressing of both emotional and physical selves: “You’ll reach for Baachan’s hand, and she’ll reach for yours./ And it’ll be understood.” An author’s note discusses the book’s origins. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. Illustrator’s agent: Hannah Mann, Writers House.

  • School Library Journal

    September 17, 2021

    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.-Tracey Hodges, Univ. of Alabama, Northport, AL

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2021
    Grades K-1 Maclear draws from loving memories of her summers as a little girl at her grandmother's house in Japan: each year, along with her aunties, they would go to the neighborhood bath house and enjoy long soaks. Even though they did not all share a common language, the women would find community and bond, especially at the bath house. Bodies of all shapes, sizes, and ages are depicted and celebrated, and the Japanese cultural tradition of bath houses is shared lovingly and joyously. The gorgeous illustrations feature delicately colored earth tones inside beautiful, loosely drawn, dark outlines. As captured by the closed eyes and gleeful expressions of the bathers, along with their "chorus of one long breath: Ahhhhh," the relaxation and delight experienced by all in partaking in the bath house is evident. Lyrical language featuring occasional rhymes in a second-person narration guide young readers along themes of family and body positivity. A brief glossary and author's note further promote cultural understanding in this stunning and welcoming addition.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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    Random House Children's Books
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