The friends

Author Yumoto, Kazumi.
Language English
Publisher
New York N.Y.: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1998




Annotation:

Recommended for listeners ages 10 and up.



Subjects :

  • Friendship
  • Fiction
  • Death
  • Old age
  • Fiction.

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Author Illustrator(s) :

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Best Books :

  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2003 American Library Association
  • 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read, 2006 Cooperative Children's Book Center
  • Best Children's Books of the Year, 1998 Bank Street College of Education
  • Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Thirteenth Edition, 1997 National Council of Teachers of English
  • Books to Read Aloud to Children of All Ages, 2003 Bank Street College of Education
  • Children's Books, 1996 New York Public Library
  • Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 H.W. Wilson
  • Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1996
  • Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 H.W. Wilson
  • Notable Children's Books, 1997 ALSC American Library Association
  • Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1996 National Council for the Social Studies NCSS
  • Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, October 1996 Cahners
  • Sharing Cultures: Asian American Children's Authors, 2001 ALSC American Library Association

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Awards, Honors & Prizes :

  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children's Literature, 1997 Winner United States
  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award, 1997 Winner United States

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State & Provincial Reading List :

  • Nene Award, 2002; Nominee Hawaii

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Reading Measurement Programs:


999999
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers (New York N.Y.:) 1998.

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 4.1
Accelerated Reader Points 6

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.

Lexile Measure 710
Accelerated Reader Points

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 4
Accelerated Reader Points 11


0374324603
Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:) 1996.

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 4.1
Accelerated Reader Points 6

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.

Lexile Measure 710
Accelerated Reader Points

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 4
Accelerated Reader Points 11


0374424616
Farrar Straus & Giroux 170p. $6.95. () 1996.

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 4.1
Accelerated Reader Points 6

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.

Lexile Measure 710
Accelerated Reader Points

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 4
Accelerated Reader Points 11

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Reviews :

Deane A. Beverly (KLIATT Review, September 1998 (Vol. 32, No. 5))
Set in Japan, this story has an unusual plot. Three boys who are best friends begin to think about what it would be like to see a dead person because none of them have ever experienced this. They decide to spy on an old gentleman in the village because they have a feeling he will be dying at any time. He appears to be simply a poor old man and because of this they are afraid to reveal themselves to him. However, he is aware of their presence and eventually confronts them. Once the boys realize the old man is not going to die right away, they begin to do little things to help him out. They clean his yard, help him with his shopping, plant flowers in his yard, and soon become very close to him. The old man has secrets he has told no one, but the boys begin to investigate his past and learn more than they bargained for. I found this a difficult plot to become interested in, but in the end I became close to the old man as well as the boys, who have difficulties of their own. The characterization is strong. This is a book that the reader needs to stay with. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 1992, Dell/Yearling, 169p. 20cm, $4.50. Ages 13 to 15.
(PUBLISHER: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers (New York N.Y.:), PUBLISHED: [1998] c1996.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
This novel features three 12-year-old boys in Japan who find friendship through their mutual fascination with death. In a starred review, PW called this "an eloquent initiation story that first touches and then pierces the heart." Ages 10-up. (May)
(PUBLISHER: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers (New York N.Y.:), PUBLISHED: [1998] c1996.)

Hazel Rochman (Booklist, October 15, 1996 (Vol. 93, No. 4))
Outsiders at home and at school, Kiyama and his two awkward sixth-grade friends decide to spy on a solitary old man in their small Japanese town. They want to see what happens when he dies. For them, death is the stuff of nightmare and ghosts, a fearful unknown. At first, the old man is angry, but their attention revitalizes him, and he draws them into his home. Together they fix his house, clean up his yard, plant a garden, and every day after cram school, gather there. When he does die, there's no horror--only heartfelt grief and loving memories that give them strength to go on. The novel is long, sometimes slow-moving, and Kiyama's first-person narrative is too articulate about his fears and their resolution. But the translation from the Japanese is immediate, both lyrical and casual. The characters, including the old man, are subtly drawn. Readers will be moved by the terror of death, the bond across generations, and the struggle of those whom society labels losers. Category: Middle Readers. 1996, Farrar, $15. Gr. 5-7.
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1996.)

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1996)
In search of answers to questions about death, three Japanese boys learn about life and living in a beautifully unfolding novel from Japanese author Kazumi Yumoto. Kiyama, Kawabe and Yamashita are sixth grade friends who want to know what happens when someone dies, in that very moment of life's passing. They begin spying on a reclusive old man near their school: the most likely candidate for death that they know. But the old man, whose life is spare and lonely, who is, indeed, physically alive but barely engaged in the act of living, catches them. As if to defy the very thing the boys hope for, the old man begins to embrace life in a new and vigorous way, challenging the boys to come out from behind the wall where they spy and close the distance between them as he does so. What began as a death watch slowly transforms into a deeply felt friendship between the boys and the old man, a friendship that encourages them all--children and adult alike--to live life more deliberately. A novel set in contemporary Japan and providing a realistic portrayal of the busy, active schedules which many Japanese children maintain to meet the expectations of family and society acknowledges the ways lives are enriched when people risk coming out from behind their walls to meet the hearts and minds of others. Co-Winner, 1996 CCBC Batchelder DiscussIon CCBC categories: Fiction for Children; Contemporary People, Places and Events. 1996, Farrar Straus Giroux, 170 pages, $16.00. Ages 10-13.
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1996.)

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1996)
In this graceful first novel, the funeral of one boy's grandmother excites a curiosity about death in three Japanese schoolboys: fatherless Kawabe, jiggling with nervous energy; pudgy, soft-hearted Yamashita; and the narrator, Kiyama. The boys are hardpressed by unhappy parents (Kiyama's mother drinks; Kawabe's is unmarried), exams, and cram school ("this summer will determine academic victory or defeat"). Like "secret agents," they begin spying on an unkempt old man, thinking he will "probably drop dead soon." Instead, he shapes up under their scrutiny, and they are drawn into his life, even getting him to tell of his participation in a wartime massacre. In the course of the summer, Yamashita almost drowns; Kiyama gets into the "first big fight" of his life; and the old man quietly passes away, leaving them "a friend in the next world." This is an offbeat and unsentimental coming-of-age story--a Japanese Stand By Me--about friends fascinated by death, who end up learning about life. 1996, Farrar Straus & Giroux, $15.00. Starred Review. © 1996 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1996.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
In an eloquent initiation story that first touches and then pierces the heart, Japanese first-novelist Yumoto introduces three irresistible 12-year-old boys, whose fascination with death leads to an unexpected friendship. Chubby Yamashita, "four-eyed" Kawabe, and bean-pole Kiyama, the narrator, hear that the old man who lives by the calligraphy schools "will probably drop dead soon"; hoping to witness the event, the boys organize a daily lookout. Their spy mission backfires, however, when the old man, who seems to have plenty of energy, discovers their presence and solicits their help in doing chores. Hanging out the old man's laundry, weeding his yard and planting flowers may not have been part of the trio's plan, but these experiences fill a need in each boy's life. During the course of their relationship with the old man, Yamashita, Kawabe and Kiyama learn how to confront their fears and accept the inevitable. The passage of the time and the nature of mutability are poetically expressed in this warmly humorous narrative, deserving of equally high marks in kid appeal and literary merit. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1996.)

Connie Russell (The ALAN Review, Spring 1997 (Vol. 24, No. 3))
Set in Japan, this translated story by a Japanese author begins with three friends -- Kiyama, Kawabe, and Yamashita -- who become curious about dying, following the death of Yamashita's grandmother. Determined to learn more, they choose an old man from their neighborhood to watch. Believing they will see death first-hand if they continually watch him, they set out to do just that and neglect their studies. Yumoto skillfully shows the transition of the boys and the crotchety and lonely old man as they become friends. The friends learn valuable lessons about both living and dying as the story and friendship with the old man comes to an end. This excellent novel gives middle school readers a first-hand look at Japanese education and culture as well as a heartwarming story about friendship and compassion. 1996, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 170 pp., $15.00. Ages 12 up.
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1996.)

Janice M. Del Negro (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, February 1997 (Vol. 50, No. 6))
Three sixth-grade Japanese boys-Yamashita, Kawabe, and Kiyama-are inseparable. When Yamashita's grandmother dies, the three boys become fascinated with the idea of death and determined to see a dead body. They begin to spy on an old man due to "drop dead at any minute." But the old man has life in him yet, and he draws them into a warm, supportive relationship that each boy desperately needs: Yamashita, because his mother is pressuring him to be more than the fish-shop owner his father is; Kawabe, who thinks of his absent (divorced) father as if he were dead; and Kiyama, whose parents are having difficulty due to/resulting in his mother's heavy drinking. Yumoto places the boys squarely within their society, showing the expectations and pressures of the adult world while concentrating on the dynamics among the boys and between the boys and the old man. Narrated by the sensitive Kiyama, the novel never loses the unsullied, unforgiving, humorous clarity of the twelve-year-old view that the world is easily understood once you know the rules. Gently paced, the action is calmly involving, as the old man tells the boys of his wartime experiences, teaches them the proper way to hang clothes and peel pears, and demonstrates the merits of acceptance and survival. The boys' deathwatch becomes a nurturing experience, and when the old man dies, the reader must smile with Yamashita as he says, "After all, we have a friend in the next world watching out for us! Doesn't that make you feel invincible?" R--Recommended. (c) Copyright 1997, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1996, Farrar, 170p, $15.00. Grades 5-8.
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1996.)

Martha Davis Beck (The Five Owls, March/April 1997 (Vol. 11, No. 4))
The Friends is a novel that wakes up the senses, leaving the reader changed in small ways after reading it, and eager to pass it on. The experience is doubly satisfying, as we are invited not only to enjoy an original and moving story, but to experience a slice of life across the ocean. (The book was originally published in Japan in 1992, where it won the Recommended Book Prize from the Japan School Library Club.) Yumoto's direct, personal style and the novel's graceful translation allow American readers to feel at home on foreign soil. The story involves the experience of three sixth-grade boys who, on the verge of facing the school exams that will determine their futures, are sidetracked by events in their lives to confront the larger issue of death. When their friend Yamashita returns from attending his grandmother's funeral, Kiyama and Kawabe's discomfort with the whole idea of death is gradually surpassed by curiosity: what does it mean, to die? What does death look like when it happens? The three of them, initially plagued by nightmares on the subject, get their courage up and set out to catch someone "in the act." Their attention focuses on an old man in their village who lives alone, and who appears to be at death's door. What might seem to be a morbid subject reveals itself to be rich ground for humor and surprising discoveries. As the three boys spy on the old man, peeking at him through his fence after school, he becomes aware of their attention--and it revives him. Who else has taken any interest? Before long, they're helping him paint the fence, take out the garbage, do minor repairs, and plant cosmos in his yard. To the surprise of the boys, a close relationship develops, and in the process they learn some subtle but important life lessons. Kiyama, the narrator, is a sensitive recorder of the events that unfold. Yumoto's treatment of his experience is both poetic and perceptive. The story's universal themes--peer pressures, family dysfunction, worry about the future, fear of death--intertwine with culturally specific details, such as Japan's more intense academic program (the boys attend "cram school" in the evenings), and differences in the way death is observed. (In Japan when a person dies and is cremated, loved ones carefully pick their bones from the ashes with chopsticks, depositing them into the urn in which they will remain.) Despite differences in routine and ritual, it will be clear to readers on this side of the ocean that young people in Japan share many things with them--curiosity about the world, uneasiness about death (elaborated comically in a scene at soccer camp, where the trio's fear of ghosts is put to the test) and the basic mix of emotions, hopes, and anxieties that come with growing up. For both the recognition and discoveries it will provoke, The Friends deserves an enthusiastic American reception. 1996, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 170 pages, $15.00. Ages 10 to 14.
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1996.)

Susan R. Farber (VOYA, April 1997 (Vol. 20, No. 1))
This charming and gentle story of three boys who are friends in Japan reveals their gradual realization that death can be a celebration of a loved one's life. Kiyama, Kawabe, and Yamashita are awkward loners in the sixth grade when Yamashita's grandmother dies, leading the three boys to excitedly recite fearful stories of ghosts, gore, and nightmares. They decide to dispel their fears by seeing firsthand what really happens when someone dies by spying on an elderly, decrepit neighbor who, they assume, is certain to die soon. Day after day, they keep him under rather obvious surveillance until to their surprise, the formerly cantankerous old man befriends the boys and starts to take an interest in their lives and in himself. He becomes revitalized and together they clean up his house and garden, share meals, and most importantly, share their innermost feelings. Months later, when the boys find the old man dead in his bed, they realize just how much they have gained from their relationship. More humorous and aimed at a younger audience than Zindel's ground-breaking The Pigman (Bantam, 1968), this novel has the added attraction of a foreign setting which will intrigue readers unfamiliar with daily life in Japan. Kiyama is a likeable little boy who is just on the cusp of adolescence, and his adventures at school will be instantly familiar to students between grades five and seven. The translation is well done and smooth, and even concepts such as "cram school" will be understood in the context of the story. Librarians will feel comfortable recommending this novel to boys and girls alike. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 1996, Farrar Straus Giroux, 170p., $15.00. Ages 11 to 15.
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York:), PUBLISHED: 1996.)

Janet Julian (KLIATT Review, November 2005 (Vol. 39, No. 6))
From the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, March 1999: Three sixth graders, Yamashita, Kiyama and Kowalee, become obsessed with death and want to see a dead body, so they follow an old man who they assume is about to die. They see him go to the local store and find that he is not eating properly. Yamashita feels sorry for the old man and gives him sashimi; Kiyama cleans up the old man’s garbage. Their attention makes the old man more energetic and he teaches them useful skills. They in turn find the wife he abandoned during the war. The old man dies in his sleep and the boys discover his body; death loses its horror for them. This coming-of-age story is true to the human verities of the heart. Japanese children deal with the same problems as children face in America--a mother who drinks, giggling girls, taunting peers, a bitter divorce, prep school stress, finding a place in the world. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 1996, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 170p., $6.95. Ages 12 to 15.
(PUBLISHER: Farrar Straus & Giroux 170p. $6.95., PUBLISHED: 1996)

Paul E. Ferrari (Audiofile, May 1998)
What do people look like when they die?" Kiwabe wonders. His friends, Kiyama and Yamashita, are repulsed but intrigued at the question, and all three decide to spy on a lonely old man to wait for him to die. Oddly, however, the old man turns the tables. He isn't quite ready to die. Instead he draws all four of them into an adventure that helps all come a little closer to life. Reader Jeff Woodman's gentle, good-natured voice is perfect for the earnest, young narrator, Kiyama, as well as for the wise old man, whose wit and tricks make the narrative seem to sparkle. Woodman's reading is alert with the emerging vitality of the old man and the sheer joy of youth that swims here just below the surface. If death is the pool they all start to swim in, it's life that breaks the surface and sparkles like jewels in the sun. P.E.F. Winner of AUDIOFILE Earphones Award (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine Unabridged. 1997 (orig. 1992), Recorded Books, Four cassettes, 5 hrs., Book pak, $34.00. Ages 13 up.
(PUBLISHER: Recorded Books (Prince Frederick MD:), PUBLISHED: p1997.)

Janet Julian (KLIATT Review, March 1999 (Vol. 33, No. 2))
Three sixth graders, Yamashita, Kiyama and Kowalee, become obsessed with death and want to see a dead body, so they begin to follow an old man who they assume is about to die. They see him go to the local store and find that he is not eating properly. Yamashita feels sorry for the old man and gives him sashimi; Kiyama cleans up the old man's garbage. Their attention makes the old man more energetic and he teaches them useful skills. They in turn find the wife he abandoned during the war. The old man dies in his sleep and the boys discover his body; death loses its horror for them. Woodman's young voice is perfect for the three boys in this coming-of-age story. He creates a believable cranky old man. His reading is sensitive to this story set in another culture but true to the human verities of the heart. Japanese children deal with the same problems as those in America -- a mother who drinks, giggling girls, taunting peers, a bitter divorce, prep school stress, finding a place in the world. Recommended for junior high listeners; high school freshmen might also enjoy its young characters. Category: Ficition Audiobooks. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 1997 (orig. 1992), Recorded Books, 4 tapes, 5 hrs. #95024.; Sturdy vinyl binder; plot notes., $34.00. Ages 12 to 15.
(PUBLISHER: Recorded Books (Prince Frederick MD:), PUBLISHED: p1997.)

Recorded Books (Recorded Books, LLC.)
In Japan, as Kiyama and his two friends prepare for the entrance exams for junior high school, the young boys become obsessed with the desire to see what a dead person looks like. Driven by this grisly wish, they begin spying on an old man who lives alone in a dilapidated house in their neighborhood. Thinking that he will die soon, they hope to satisfy their curiosity about death and ghosts by secretly watching him. The old man, however, is no fool. Before long, the boys realize that he is watching them. As the boys draw closer to the old man, the resulting relationship changes each of their lives. Spying turns into sharing, and the boys’ wish becomes a quest for life instead. The Friends won the Recommended Book Prize from the Japan School Library Book Club and the Batchelder Award for the most outstanding foreign-published book translated into English. Young Kiyama’s story, voiced by the talented narrator Jeff Woodman, is a sensitive yet forthright portrayal of three boys’ coming-of-age under the watchful eye of a wise new friend. n.d., Recorded Books, Unabridged Cassette - Library Edition; 95024, $41.75. Ages 10 to 14.
(PUBLISHER: Recorded Books (Prince Frederick MD:), PUBLISHED: p1997.)

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Publication Details:

  Publisher ISBN Notes
New York N.Y.: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1998

Media Type: Language Material
169 p. ;
PZ7.Y8967 ([Fic])
0440414466
9780440414469
"A Yearling book."
Originally published New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux 1996.
Prince Frederick MD: Recorded Books, 1997

Media Type: Nonmusical Sound Recording
4 sound cassettes (ca. 5 hr.):
RZC 0664
0788708864
9780788708862
Translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano.
Unabridged.
Farrar Straus & Giroux 170p. $6.95., 1996

Media Type:

0374424616
9780374424619
New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1996

Media Type: Language Material
169 p. ;
PZ7.Y8967 ([Fic])
0374324603
9780374324605
"Originally published in Japan under the title Natsu no niwa by Fukutake Publishing Co. Ltd. 1992"-T.p. verso.

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