by Mercer Mayer
I will say that the illustrations are beautiful. But I didn't particularly like the story and I don't like Mayer after reading his author's note.
My first objection is when Shibumi overhears the children insulting her over the garden wall. I did not like that the children used fat and ugly as insults. I understand Mayer needed a way for Shibumi to experience the outside world for the first time, but he could have achieved the same results by having her throw a ball over the wall and try to retrieve it.
Also, Mayer pluralizes samurai as samurais. With any Japanese word the plural is the same as the singular. So samurai, when there are more than one, has no s on the end. As someone who claims to be fascinated by Japanese culture, it's amazing that he got that wrong.
Lastly, in his author's note, he explains his fascination with Japanese culture and the word shibumi. When he was in Japan he was unable to find anyone who could explain shibumi to him, so for his story he decided to make up his own meaning. It's really not OK for him to be assigning his own meanings to Japanese words (can you say cultural appropriation)?
All in all I would not recommend this book, if only from the gross feeling I get from the author.