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3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  481 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
Ojiisan, the oldest and wealthiest man in the village, doesn?t join the others at the rice ceremony. Instead he watches from his balcony. He feels something is coming?something he can?t describe. When he sees the monster wave pulling away from the beach, he knows. Tsunami! But the villagers below can?t see the danger. Will Ojiisan risk everything he has to save them? Can h ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published February 5th 2009 by Philomel Books
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Jan 25, 2009 Betsy rated it really liked it
The purpose of a picture book? Think carefully now. The answer’s not going to jump up and bite you on the bum. Does it exist primarily to instill a love of literature? A love of art? To teach children to read? Is it an artistic form in and of itself, separate entirely from its practical purposes? Is it made to please adults with children as a secondhand afterthought, or does it please all persons regardless of age? Such questions do not always come up after reading one of these 32-odd page creat ...more
Mar 21, 2011 Sophia rated it really liked it
This is my read aloud for this week -- for all grade levels, K-5. In light of what has happened in Japan, I want our students to get a sense of understanding of what is happening in the world around them. I choked up several times while reading this book this morning.
Sep 24, 2013 538AM_Steph rated it it was amazing
"Tsunami!" takes the reader to a rural town in early 20th century Japan during a traditional rice harvest celebration. During the festivities, the town elder senses the severity of one of the earthquakes that causes no alarm to the the villagers who are too preoccupied with the festivities to notice the magnitude of this particular tremor in a land frequently shaken with earthquakes. The elder ignites his rice field, which is the source of his entire year’s income, that triggers the villagers to ...more
CH13_Lisa Matthews
Tsunami is adapted from Lafcadio Hearn’s story “A Living God” is a story about a rice farmer name Ojiisan which mean “grandfather” who lived in a Japanese village by the sea. Ojiisan is the wealthiest person in the village and lived on a high mountain that overlooked the village and the sea. One day during the rice harvest ceremony approached a tsunami that only Ojiisan saw from his mountain top cottage. Oijjsan made the ultimate sacrifice to save all the villagers who were celebrating the rice ...more
Jan 29, 2009 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Ojiisan is the wealthiest person in his small village. His wisdom has people walking the crooked track up the mountain to ask for his advice. Ojiisan decides not to go to the rice harvest celebration in the village because something does not feel right to him. So he watches the celebration from high above on the mountain. When the first earthquake comes it doesn't stop the celebration below. Then Ojiisan sees the sea moving away from the shore, he realizes what is happening - tsunami! But how ca ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Esther rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-american
Published in 2009 by Philomel
Interest Level: 5th-8th Grade

This was an interesting perspective of a Tsunami and its effect on people. The main characters of the story, the grandfather and grandson, set fire to their grain to save the villagers who are to busy celebrating in a festival to realize that a giant Tsunami wave is coming. I was somewhat confused by the story, since in my understanding a Tsunami is a hurricane, but then I realized that it is a giant tidal wave. The illustrations are in a
Oct 07, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
Tsunami! / Kimiko Kajikawa, Ed Young--Illustrator / 2009
Genre: non-fiction
Format: picture book
Plot Summary: A wealthy man in a Japanese village, who everyone calls Ojiisan, which means grandfather, sets fire to his rice fields to warn the innocent people of an approaching tsunami.
Considerations: suspenseful overtones

Review Citation: School Library Journal, vol 55, issue 1, p76
"Young uses a panoply of papers to create collages that tell the story of a sacrifice that saved hundreds of lives. Patte
Mar 22, 2009 Linda rated it it was amazing
Great story about a sensitive rice farmer who knew what was most important and how to take care of people - based on a true story
Nov 04, 2010 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens, 2015
A gorgeous, darkly illustrated book about sacrifice, and possibly something more about respecting nature and valuing life over livelihood. Layers in meaning and layers in the collage art.
Susan Smith
Nov 10, 2016 Susan Smith rated it it was amazing
Excellent artwork and grandpa perspective of a disaster.
Jan 27, 2009 Alison rated it it was amazing
Tsunami is a beautiful story, scary but human and satisfying.
Margaret Kerr

Kajikawa, Kimiko. Tsunami (2009). This story is adapted from Lafcadio Hearn’s story “A Living God” (Gleanings in Buddha Fields, 1897). It is a story of a hero named Ojiisan, which means “grandfather”, who is the oldest and wealthiest man in living in a Japanese village on the sea. He lives on the top of the mountain, and many villagers climb this mountain to seek his advice. One day there is a rice harvest celebration in the village, but Ojiisan doesn’t go because “something does not feel right.
Jun 23, 2014 Amelia rated it really liked it
Tsunami!: Lessons and Entertainment All Wrapped Into One!
A Review By: Amelia

Interested in more book reviews? Check out my blog Bookworms Unite! (

When the last major tsunami hit I remember it was big news with the kids I work with. They were just old enough to realize that it was a very serious thing and a very scary thing. Their bedtime routine became a nightmare scene of trying to calm them enough that they’d go to sleep but it was easier said then done
Mary Ann
Feb 27, 2012 Mary Ann rated it it was amazing
Long ago in rural Japan, a grandfather was tending his rice fields high on a mountaintop overlooking his seaside village. That day, his family went down to the village to celebrate the rice harvest, but Ojiisan, the grandfather, told his family that something did not feel right. So he and his grandson Tada stayed behind on the mountain. Later that day, an earthquake struck, “a long, slow, spongy motion.” But earthquakes are common in Japan, and this earthquake was not strong enough to alarm anyo ...more
Oct 25, 2011 Tonya rated it really liked it
Historical Fiction review:

This book began a long time ago in Japan with a wealthy rice farmer named Ojiisan. He lived near the sea in a cottage that was on a mountain. Ojiisan's name meant grandfather. People often walked up the hill to ask him for advice. One day his family prepared to walk down the hill to the rice harvest, but Ojiisan didn't want to go. He said something didn't feel right so he and his grandson stayed home. They watched the festival from the top of the mountain. Ojiisan felt
Dec 01, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing
My niece informed me that she wants to give this book five stars, so five stars it is! She was quite taken with Tsunami, which is a based on a true story about a man named Hamaguchi Goryou who, in 1854, saved many in his village from a tsunami that followed an earthquake.

As the danger of the tsunami grew in this book, my niece tumbled further into the story, and by the time the tsunami struck the village, she was literally sitting on the edge of her seat, just about as close to the book as she c
I LOVE Ed Young's illustrations in this book. It's amazing how bits of paper and collage can create such a sense of atmosphere and movement. Tsunami would be a great book to introduce children to the natural disasters. It would also a great teaching tool for how simple acts can make someone a hero.

From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 3—Wealthy Ojiisan suffers a feeling of foreboding as he watches colorful rice festival celebrations from his cottage high above
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Aug 06, 2010 Erin Reilly-Sanders rated it really liked it
I really love the story- its message of people being more important than wealth is really beautiful. Ed Young's pictures, as always are beautiful. Despite using a collage style, the characters have a lot of individuality and expression unlike some others that I've read recently, Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson coming to mind. However, as beautiful as they are, they are usually too busy to appreciate. The people hidden behind the ocean spray on one set of pages are almost indistinguishable. ...more
I've always liked Ed Young's artwork and so I looked forward to seeing this new book that he illustrated. It was a surprise to me that, this time, I think the story is stronger than the art. (It is adapted from a story by Lafcadio Hearn.)

The cover illustration is the best; tiny bits of flotsam give a sense of the enormity of the wave swamping a Japanese village. The orange colour of the title pops against the grey background and echoes the shape of the wave. Barring a few exceptions, I found the
Margo Tanenbaum
May 20, 2010 Margo Tanenbaum rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Caldecott winner Ed Young and writer Kajikawa team up to create a stunning picture book about one man’s simple sacrifice in the face of a natural disaster. Somehow Ojiisan, the wisest, oldest, and wealthiest man in the village, feels that something isn’t right the day the autumn day the villagers are to celebrate the rice harvest. When an earthquake strikes, the villagers are not frightened, but soon “the sea was running away from the land.” Ojiisan knew that it was a tsunami, and that he must g ...more
Paige Sullivan
Apr 22, 2012 Paige Sullivan rated it liked it
The story Tsunami by Kimiko Kajikawa, is about a man named Ojiisan, who was the oldest and wealthiest man in the village, he was watching all of the people in the village at the rice ceremony from his balcony. He didn't go that day because he had a funny feeling about it and preferred to just watch from the balcony. And as he looked through the horizon he saw a monster wave pulling away from the beach and he knew there was a tsunami heading their way. The rest of the story talks about him riskin ...more
Lenae Haley
Feb 23, 2016 Lenae Haley rated it liked it
Tsunami is about a rich wise rice farmer named Ojiisa and the village of people experiencing a tsunami in Japan. The rice harvest was coming up and the people were celebrating at the village but for some reason Ojiisa didn't want to go. He said he had a bad feeling about it so him and his grandson stayed home but watched from their balcony. While everyone was down at the village Ojiisa felt a shake under his feet. At first he thought it was an earthquake but then he realized that it was his wors ...more
Oct 22, 2011 Jacki rated it really liked it
Tsunami! is a folklore picturebook for nursery and primary readers.

The book simply tells the story of an old, wise villager in Japan who upon feeling an earthquake realizes it is not a "normal" earthquake for the area. He and his grandson are the only villagers not near the beach and he makes a heroic effort to save the rest of the village from the impending tsunami.

This book has amazing pictures, which are done in a torn paper style of art. The colors are vibrant and the paper used was texture
Taryn Loyd
This book is about how a man was able to help save thousands of lives during a tsunami. Ojisan is one of the oldest and wealthiest men in his village. One day, he decided to skip the rice ceremony, and instead watched it from his balcony. While watching, he felt like something was off, and then spotted a huge dark wave coming closer. Needing a way to warn the villagers, he lit his rice fields, his source of wealth, on fire so that they would notice. They noticed, and came rushing to try to help, ...more
Lisa Vegan
Jan 29, 2009 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
I found this story remarkably touching. I don’t know if it’s an old folk tale or whether I’ve read the same story in another book, but the plot was very familiar to me. The themes of sacrifice and altruism are paramount here.

The illustrations are incredibly special. I love collage and the technique is used wonderfully here.

However, I have had only two recurrent nightmares in my life: one that started when I was eight and one (about tsunamis) that began when I was fourteen. The tsunami one starte
Jan 04, 2010 Julianne rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful children's picture book! It tells the story of rice farmers in a seaside village. The oldest and wealthiest man of the village lives up the hill. He decides not to go down to join the others on the day of the rice harvest celebration. He feels a small earthquake, and from his vantage point up the hill he sees the sea run away! Being an old and wise one, he knows what that means. But how can he warn all the other villagers?

The pictures in this book are extraordinary! All geome
Ashley Simpson
Sep 30, 2016 Ashley Simpson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reading-350
In Tsunami, a story about a grandfather and grandson is portrayed. The grandfather lives atop a mountain in Japan, and realizes a huge tidal wave is coming to the shore. He knows it'll wipe out the whole village, so selflessly thinking, he causes an emergency signal by lighting his fields on fire.

I enjoyed the illustrations and how they depicted the fear the grandfather felt. I thought it was brave of the father to destroy his assets in order to save his people.

This would be a good book for st
Whitney Scott
Mar 29, 2016 Whitney Scott rated it really liked it
This book is the true story of Ojisan, the wealthiest man in his village, and the extraordinary measures he takes to save his village. As he watches the rice harvest celebration happening in the village from his mountain top house, he feels an earthquake and realizes danger is about to ensue. The villagers down below have no idea anything is wrong, so he has to think fast to figure out what he must do to save the people.
I loved this book. The pictures were very interesting. They had such an abs
Jan 21, 2013 L13_Meghan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mc-literature
Beautifully and simply written, with abstract, but meaningful illustrations, I found myself loving this book! This book tells the story of a wealthy Japanese man who risks his own riches in order to save the lives of others in his village. I felt that this story shed light on the importance of putting others before oneself and that it portrays this message perfectly to young readers. The pictures in this book also show a natural disaster in a very abstract way that forces the developing reader t ...more
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Kimiko's true love of reading and writing began one day at her local library. Kimiko says, "My local librarian asked me if I had ever read Harriet the Spy. She said that it was a great book, and I immediately took it home. I read the entire book that day! I was so disappointed when it ended that I reread it immediately. I had to find a way to keep the spirit of Harriet the Spy alive with me, so I ...more
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