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The Funny Little Woman

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,357 ratings  ·  218 reviews
A giggly lady from Japan chases a rolling rice dumpling and is captured by a fearsome oni. 1973 Caldecott Winner
Paperback, 40 pages
Published February 14th 1993 by Puffin Books (first published December 1st 1900)
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Caldecott Medal Winners
56th out of 78 books — 332 voters
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List for #nerdcott
165th out of 335 books — 36 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I have been reading many folktales from Japan for many years now, but if there was one Japanese folktale that I was pleasantly surprised in liking, it would be “The Funny Little Woman,” retold by Arlene Mosel along with illustrations by Blair Lent and has won the Caldecott Medal. This story is truly fun and fascinating to read for anyone who is a fan of Japanese folktales!

In this story, there was once a little woman who had the habit of laughing at every single thing. One day, she was making he
Jade Lovgren
I loved this book when I was girl, and my children have enjoyed it too. It's a great story read aloud with an animated voice. Be creative in your storytelling, your children will love it.
I read this to students K-6 grade. I told them to watch for the second story-line told just in the illustrations involving a little man and his dog. We discussed the wordless scene when the little woman arrives at the house where the wicked Oni live. I asked them to tell me what the artist did to show the reader that it was underground. Their replies: "There are tree roots." "You can tell its dark because the lanterns are glowing." "He used the color of dirt, brown not black." And my favorite, f ...more
This book was kind of random. It's called The Funny Little Woman, but they never did explain why she was so funny, she laughed a lot, but that's not really very funny. When reading this book and the funny little woman is running after her rice ball, I am wondering why she is not heeding the advice of all the statues, warning her of the evil Oni, wouldn't you at least take that into account and just go home to make another rice ball? I didn't really see the point of this story, it was kind of wei ...more
Shoaa Aljohani
My review for this book will look at both the positive and negative aspects.Firstly,in terms of positive it is a funny story as the cover shows it attracts the attention of children in terms of intended audience the book is aimed at kids 5-12 years of age.The main character is from Japan so the glimpse into her world promotes cultural awareness.The author used both narrative and dialogue,which is a very important point for each story.It is enjoyable,not prolonged the plot is feast-paced complete ...more
Casey Richard
The Funny Little Woman was making dumplings when one of them rolled out of her kitchen and into an unknown hole in the ground. She went into the hole and realized she was in a ‘new world’ that she had never known before. She meets the scary Oni, whom brings her back to his house. She was given one grain of rice and a magic spoon that multiplied the grains to create enough rice to feed the house full of Onis. After the woman had spent many days at the Oni’s house, she decided to escape, taking th ...more
After reading "Funny Little Woman", I found the story to be entertaining. The woman in the story loses her dumplings and attempts to get them back but falls into a hole on the ground. The illustrations in the story also got my attention where the main focus of the story is in color (the lady underground and dealing with the onis), whereas the less focus of the story is in black and white (the lady's house above the ground). As the story progresses, the seasons changes and you can see the lady's ...more
Oct 12, 2015 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a funny little story, tee he he he, about a little old woman who outsmarts some wicked oni. It's an interesting story, and thankfully the illustrations do not portray the oni as being too scary. Otherwise, it might not have been a good choice to read at bedtime. Our girls liked the story, especially how the old woman laughs all the time.

This book was selected as one of the books for the October 2015 - Quarterly Caldecott discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group h
Kristine Pratt
I'm not sure what's so funny, or if this woman is one of those people who laugh at everything (I'm suspecting this, which annoys me. I like when people have reason to laugh because otherwise she seems rather mindless) but this story was definitely very random. Chasing a dumpling into the underworld seems like a bad idea from the get-go, and then ignoring all the troll warnings leads to the inevitable capture by trolls. There is a certain amount of cleverness to the ending, and I do like the draw ...more
For reasons that are never revealed--perhaps she knows she will have the last laugh--a constantly tittering woman chases her dumpling when it rolls into a hole. Her determination to catch the dumpling leads to an underground adventure in which she is kidnapped by an oni and set to work as the cook for a group of them. Using a magic paddle that makes a grain of rice multiply exponentially, she enjoys her time there. But eventually she becomes bored and wants to return home. The oni spot her as sh ...more
Christina Hyde
This story was the 1972 Caldecott winner and it was well deserving of the honor. This story is about a little, giggly old Japanese woman who by chance gets captured by the fearsome oni and is forced to make rice cakes with a magic paddle for them until she escapes.

This book has a very unique cultural aspect to it. This story seems like an oral folk tale told and retold through the generations in Asia. It educates non Asian children on parts of Asian culture including food, ancestors, and "oni" w
Samantha Zimmerman
Arlene Mosel retells a story about a Japanese lady who loves to laugh and make rice dumplings in The Funny Little Woman. The little Woman loses one of her special dumplings when it rolls away and down a hilly road lined with statues of the gods. The little woman travels after the dumping meeting the different gods and being warned not to go any further for the wicked Oni lives at the end of the road. In the end she is captured by the Oni and is forced to move infinity amount of rice for them. Th ...more
Keani Meier
The Funny little woman
by Arlene Mosel
This book takes place with an Eastern style of drawing coming from Japan. Most of the colors were dark brown and green which gives it a dark feel to the story. While little woman was the only one dressed in bright colors known as a red rope which made her noticeable, appealing, and understandable.
A little old lady was make dumplings, than her the dumpling fell of the table and down a crack. The earth gave out and the little lady fell down a whole to ancient
Elle Harris
This story is about a happy woman who lives alone and loves to cook rice dumplings. One day, her rice dumpling rolled out of her house and when she chased it, the ground cracked and she fell down the road where she continued to look for her dumpling. She was kidnapped by “the wicked oni”, where she was forced to cook rice dumplings for them with a magic spoon. She eventually escaped and made it back to her home, where she sold her rice dumplings and became the richest woman in Japan.This book co ...more
Ashlynn Pope
The Funny Little Woman is about a woman who is always laughing and smiling. Throughout this book she is going through an adventure of finding her rice ball in a cave and ran into an evil omie. They then helped her to learn how to make rice dumpling for months for them. She then starts to miss her old house. With this she snuck out and went onto the river to try to get back to her cute house. The omie found her on the rive and since they do not swim they drank all of the river, the little woman f ...more
This is a Japanese folktake about a "funny little woman" who find herself in a bit of trouble after she decides to chase one her rice dumplings that rolled away out of her kitchen one day. As I started to read the story, I thought is was going to be a different version of "The Gingerbread Man" but it turned out to be quite different.
Adam Donald
There is a little woman that lives in Japan and makes rice dumplings. One day one of her dumplings rolls away and falls into a hole. She chases it down and into the world of the Oni (Monsters). The Oni captures her and forces her to make rice with a magic paddle that creates a pot of rice with only one grain. After a long time in captivity the woman tries to escape across the river with the magic paddle since the Oni can’t swim. They try to stop her by drinking the river water but the funny litt ...more
Patricia Lopez
The colors in this book are something that really stands out, in the beginning the colors of the book only seem to consist of yellow orange and brown. When the Character travels to underground the land above is full of beautiful rich colors. While the land down underground is black and white. The illustrations bring everything to life. This book tells a tale of a little women who is making dumplings, while making one of her dumplings one fell down a crack. The earth seemed to open up and swallow ...more
Mitzy Rodriguez
To get a better image of what the surroundings look like the illustrations are needed. If the text was only available it would not give a very vivid description of the setting. During the idle of the tale, they main character was in a different world, in order to display that the illustrator used the same colors. The colors consisted of brown, green and yellow; I believe those colors were good because if we think what is underneath us I picture lots of sludge and slime which happen to be the col ...more
Maddy Spoon
This story is about a Japanese lady who loves to laugh and make rice dumplings. The little Woman loses one of her special dumplings and it rolls away and down a long, hilly road lined with statues of the gods. She follows after the dumpling and ignores warnings that further down the road is where the wicked Oni lives. She is caught and forced to move infinity amount of rice for them. The illustrations in the book are watercolor paintings that simply reinforce the text without adding more to the ...more
This story is about a woman who loses her rice dumpling while she was making them. Her dumpling rolled down the hill, so the funny woman goes to look for her dumpling and she keeps laughing while she is looking for the dumpling. She then gets taken by the wicked Oni, the Oni wanted the funny woman because he loved rice dumplings and he wanted her to make them for him. But the funny woman wanted to get away so she escapes Oni’s house when he is not around and goes back to her house. This book is ...more
Lauren Richards
The Funny little Woman is retold by Arlene Mosel and illustrated by Blair Lent. This book was the 1973 Caldecott Medal Winner. The story takes place in Old Japan. This book is about a little woman who drops a dumpling down a hole and goes to get it. On her journey she encounters a Japanese monster called oni and has to find a way to get back. The illustrations are done so well and complements the story perfectly. This book could be used in a classroom to talk about other cultures and mythology. ...more
This one was okay. I love seeing how stories are the same and still different in other cultures. For more:
Phally Pech
The Funny Little Women tells a tale of a story about a women who loves to laugh and make dumplings. One day, as she was making dumplings, one of her dumplings fell and rolled away. As she chased her dumpling, it led her to an adventurous journey. On this journey, she encounters live statues of Gods, and the wicked Oni. Once the Oni had encounter the old women, The Oni captured her and took her to their home. As the journey continues, the funny little women was able to escape at last.

This book i
Very clever illustrations that include the funny little woman's house while she is away underground cooking for the evil oni.
Jan 24, 2014 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: january
This book is so nostalgic for me. My parents used to read this to me when I was little and I absolutely loved it when my dad would say, "Tee hee hee" in his impression of the funny little woman. Besides the element of nostalgia, I loved this book because of the beautiful Japanese-style art artwork and the gumption of the woman in the story. She has no fear! I'm not saying that she's exactly a great role model for kids, (I mean she completely ignores the warnings that were given to her) but she f ...more
Jan 28, 2013 Relyn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: children
Recommended to Relyn by: I love TIki Tiki
It's not TikiTiki, but it's still fun and worth reading.
A cute bedtime story
Jaylene Grinaker
This book is about a Japanese woman who makes rice dumplings and monster like creatures, ‘onis’, capture her and make her make these dumplings. While she is captured she is in a cave that is illustrated as very dark and green. The colors set the mood of the creepy dungeon like area they take the old woman to. After she escapes, she goes back to her home and is able to make rice dumplings with magic. This makes her the richest woman in all of Japan. When she escapes and is at her home the colors ...more
Becky B
All because she goes to chase a dumpling that rolled away, the funny little woman finds herself in an underground world captured by wicked oni who force her to make rice for them day in and day out. Eventually she gets tired and decides to escape. Her plan almost ends in disaster, but thanks to the oni's sense of humor she gets away and sets up a successful dumpling business thanks to a souvenir she brought back.

I wish this book came with a glossary. Though I had a guess, I had to look up what o
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Arlene Tichy Mosel was a American author of children's literature who was best-known for her illustrated books Tikki Tikki Tembo, a retelling of a Chinese folk tale, and the award-winning The Funny Little Woman, which was the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 1973.

She was born as Arlene Tichy on August 27, 1921, in Cleveland, Ohio to Edward J. Tichy, an engraver and Marie Fingul
More about Arlene Mosel...

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