Japanese / Japan
(My odd friend)
Tajima, Yukihiko (text/illus.)
Tōkyō: Kumon Shuppan, 2014. –  p.
Autism – Friendship – School – Picture book
On his first day at a new school, Yusuke is puzzled to see one of his classmates, Yakkun, behaving strangely. Yakkun always speaks nonsense phrases to himself; he is often upset and sometimes rushes out of the classroom during classtime, because he is autistic. However, his classmates support and treat him well, and Yusuke gradually understands Yakkun’s feelings and frustrations. As a junior high school student, Yusuke sides with Yakkun when he is misunderstood by teachers and bullied by other students. Yusuke grows up to be a post-office clerk, and Yakkun a mail-delivery man. When Yusuke feels down about his work, Yakkun always cheers him up in a unique and touching way. This picture book was inspired by a real story, and the child protagonist’s voice and point of view is believable throughout. The story is enhanced by child-like illustrations made on bamboo-paper using a limited palette, which depict the beautiful landscape of a small island town and provides a lively account of a special, long-lasting friendship. (Age: 7+)