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The Boy of the Three-Year Nap
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The Boy of the Three-Year Nap

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  720 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Lazy Taro gets his comeuppance when his wise mother uses his trick to avoid work to her own advantage.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 25th 1988 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1988)
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An indolent, but shrewd poor widow's son devises an ingenious ploy (method) to marry a rich merchant's daughter in Dianne Snyder's (author) and Allen Say's (illustrator) fun and engaging adaptation of what appears to be a traditional Japanese folktale (I especially love and appreciate that both Taro and his mother are wily and adept, that while Taro uses tricks and subterfuge to marry the merchant's daughter, the mother also uses the same to finally insure that her lazy son will actually have to ...more
This had been in my classroom, but somehow has made it's way to Beetle's bookshelf. It is a book I ordered from Troll years ago.

What a fantastic tale! Such rich language. An interesting story. A twist. A fabulous illustrations. This is what children's literature is all about.

Taro is a shiftless boy. He lives with his mother in a one-room house that is in disrepair. To calm his mother's nagging, Taro enacts a plan that should net him riches for doing nothing. The plan works, but his mother catche
I immediately loved these illustrations! They pull you right into the Japanese setting. It seemed at first that Taro, a boy who is so lazy it was said he takes three-year naps, would somehow be rewarded for his laziness with his plan to trick his rich neighbor into letting him marry his daughter. While he doesn't exactly suffer any ill consequences, things don't go exactly as he had planned, which I liked. It just goes to show that a good mother will always be a great benefit to her children. Th ...more
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This Caldecott Honor book was completely new to me and I really enjoyed it. Taro is a lazy boy who is always napping, hence his nickname "the boy of the three year nap." His mother works hard but still they live in poverty. Taro watches the wealthy rice merchant and hatches a plan to change his fate by tricking the merchant. But his mother successfully tricks him as well. The story is humorous and has a lesson. And the illustrations are wonderful.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-alouds
My kids had mixed feelings about this story. Some thought it was unfair that the lazy son should get away with trickery and getting a wife and a good home through it. Others saw that the story had value in that it showed the value of work and that people can change. It did definitely show laziness in a negative light. I felt like reading them The Little Red Hen after this story.

Allen Say's illustrations never fail to impress.
Katherine Austin
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reading-4050
1) Book summary, in your own words (3 pts)
-Taro is a lazy boy who just really does not want to do anything. His hardworking mother makes kimonos for people and is always on him about getting up and getting to work. He really does nothing until a merchant with a pretty daughter moves in next door. He begins to sneak over to look at the merchant's fancy stuff. Suddenly, he has an idea. He asks his mom to make him a black kimono like the priest wears. She agrees and when its done he dresses up as a
Sep 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: caldecott
1989 Caldecott Honor - Favorite Illustration: I like the last page where Taro and his family are playing and the mother is looking on happily.
An interesting tale of a lazy boy who makes a plan to become wealthy without having to do anything more than eat and sleep. However, Taro is outwitted by his hardworking mother who knows that nobody can be truly happy when they are so lazy. This was a good story, but I wish there were more to it. I kind of feel like even though Taro had to work in the end,
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
I very much enjoyed this humorous story, and how the mother ultimately tricked her son. But most of all I loved the beautiful, colorful ink and watercolor paintings that captured the Japanese architecture and clothing, etc. with such authenticity. The blurbs call this a traditional Japanese folktale, but there is no other information about it.

This book was selected as one of the books for the August 2016- Caldecott Honor discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
In this book, a spoiled boy dresses up like the patron god of a town and scares a rich merchant into betrothing his daughter to him.
The daughter does not even get to speak in this story, but is only a plot device. The lazy boy uses trickery to achieve a better life for himself and his mother.
Briana Warner
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: el-ed-340
Funny story and culturally significant. This would be a great story to read during an Asian studies unit or around Chinese New Year. The only thing I don't like is that the boy gets what he wants by lying and tricking an old man and his mom goes along with it. I know it's a story, but I don't love the lesson this teaches the children and I think it would be hard to explain if questions were asked after a read aloud. But I still liked the book.
Chris Schaben
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: japan
Good illustrations, bad story.
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Caldecott Honor picture book. Boy tricks his way into a rich family. With pretty good writing and very good art. Readable and in the end things work out okay.
From book:
"Summary: A poor Japanese woman maneuvers events to change the lazy habits of her son."

A funny and clever little story.
Hyeonjeong Lee
Personal Reaction - I really like story because of the illustrations. As I am a Korean, I get used to the Japanese' culture. The illustrations show how Japanese lived in the past. While reading this book, I remembered my best Japanese friend. I met her when I lived in Boston. I stayed at the same house with her. On my first day of moving into the house, she and I hung out and had some delicious foods. Because everything was unfamiliar to me, I felt very thankful. I want to ask her if she has rea ...more
Amy Keltner
Nov 07, 2011 rated it liked it
1. Picture Book: other folk tale
2. A Japanese folk tale of how their is a boy name Taro and how lazy he is. Earning him the name of the The Boy of the Three Year Nap. Through his trickery he comes to be the one who is tricked himself.
3. a: This story was great at the retelling of a traditional Japanese folk tale. Allowing students to see what stories other children may have grown up with.
b: The print of the text was a lot. A student may stray away from reading it because of the amount of text
Crystal Lough
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Boy of the Three Year Nap is a book of Folklore. This book is written for primary and intermediate aged children. It is a book about a boy named Taro and his widowed mother. The mother worked day and night making kimonos for the rich ladies in town to make ends meat. Her son did nothing but eat and sleep. One day when they were coming to the end of their rope, Taro said he had a plan. His desperate mother helped him by making him a costume to trick a rich man into thinking he was a god and t ...more
Katie Foster
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: traditional-tale
This story is categorized as a realistic tale, and I can see why! The boy is extremely lazy, while his mother is a hard worker. His mother wants him to go work but the boy comes up with a plan so he won’t have to. He pretends to be a god, and goes to the merchant demanding that his daughter marry Taro. He knows that she will never marry him unless their house was in better condition. His plan works, and the merchant has people come and fix up his house, meaning Taro won’t have to. At the end, Ta ...more
Rebecca Tenbrook
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This traditional book was a realistic tale set in Japan about a boy who was very lazy and how his mother turned him into a hard worker. I liked this book because it was entertaining and something new was happening on every page. It also left the reader with a moral or message. I especially enjoyed the authentic language that was used in this book. Words like 'Nagara', 'cormorants', 'ujigami', and 'kimonos' provide the reader with a unique flavor of the country of origin, Japan. I think it would ...more
This year, 1988, was a particularly good year for picture books. "Mirandy and Brother Wind" and "Free Fall" were two books that also won the Caldecott Honor, which were really well done. This one comes a close second in my opinion. In this story, Taro is always sleeping and never working, which earns him the title, "the boy of the three-year nap". One day a rich merchant moves into the town and Taro envies all of the merchant's belongings, including his beautiful daughter. He decides to play a t ...more
Taro is a Japanese boy who loves to sleep so much that he is the butt of village jokes. His mother cannot get him to work no matter how much she pleads with him. Taro comes up with a plan to marry a rich merchant’s daughter so that he doesn’t have to work. What he doesn’t plan on is his mother using the situation to her own advantage to get him to work after all.

It seems that teenagers around the world sleep excessively! I remember when it seemed that my son did nothing but sleep. Fortunately t
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Caldecott Honor (1989)

A lazy, good-for-nothing young man, who does nothing but eat and sleep, schemes to win the hand of a rich mans daughter and thus secure his comfortable future. How he goes about it, and the unforeseen consequence of his mothers hand in the plan leads to a delightful ending for all.

It is said that picture books are all about the illustrations. That is certainly true here and Allen Say provides his masterful artwork. The brush-line pictures are both colorful and delightfully
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it
This tells the story of a young boy who is so lazy that rather than work, he impersonates a local god and forces the wealthiest man in the village to marry his daughter to him so he can inherit the money. Granted, his mother arranges it so he also has to work for a living as well, but, despite Allen Say's good artwork in this, some aspects of the story made me uncomfortable. The daughter is nothing but a prize; she has no personality, no choices, nothing, and nothing is even mentioned of her own ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Allen Say's skill with his drawing and painting tools are magical - all the detail, perspectives, his interiors and the light that emanates from them in the evening or penetrates from outside during the daytime, and the range of human postures and facial expressions, negative space and his careful attention to composition. Wow! The story is well told, with the shrewd mother outrunning her clever but lazy son to bring everything to right by the conclusion (see page 29 for the juxtaposition of the ...more
Becky B
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: multicultural classrooms
Taro is the laziest boy in town. It is said that if you let him, he would sleep for three years. His mother, meanwhile, works and slaves but still cannot keep the roof for leaking or enough rice in the pot. Taro comes up with a plan to trick his rich neighbor into letting him marry his daughter, but Taro's mother is able to maneuver Taro's plans so that Taro doesn't get to be quite as lazy as he desired. In the end, everyone is happy and Taro gets over his laziness.

I've read this to 2nd graders
Emily Hamstra
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
The is a Japanese foltake about a boy named Taro who is always sleeping. His mother is a hardworking widow who wants Taro to help out but he's too lazy. A merchant moves to town who was well-off, and Taro thinks of a plan to marry his daughter. He pretneds to be a God and dresses up to fool the merchant into allowing Taro to marry his daughter. The merchant comes to the home and his mother tells him that the house isn't good enough for his daughter, so the merchant fixes it up. All the while, Ta ...more
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
A widow works very hard, but her son is lazy and does nothing to help support their household. One day he comes up with a plan to trick a rich man into allowing him to marry his daughter thereby solving many of his problems. The trick works, but the widow has a trick up her sleeve too and arranges for a job for her son to cure his laziness. Funny story and with excellent illustrations that support the text well. The illustrator excels at facial expressions which add to the humor of the story. Mu ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
A lazy boy manages to trick his wealthy neighbor into letting him marry his daughter. His mother convinces the neighbor to improve her home because the daughter certainly needs to live in a fine home. The lazy son, however, is outwitted by his mother, who ensures that he gets a good job working for his father-in-law to be. Not only does the lazy boy get what he wants, he also gets what he deserves. I enjoyed the twist to this story and Allen Say's illustrations are a lovely compliment to this cl ...more
Bobbi Young
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! You are given small, but great, glimpses into Japanese culture. As I read this story to my kids my oldest daughter was asking me questions about the culture such as wearing kimonos and what a samurai was. What a great teachable moment. The story itself was also quite entertaining, since I'm sure we all know someone with the tendency for laziness. For a minute there I thought Taro's mother might be a bit of a nemesis, but I was thankfully corrected with the delightful endin ...more
Taro lives with his mother. Taro is lazy and all he does is eat and sleep. He was always taking a nap and people would say that if no one woke him, he would sleep for three years. Taro devises a plan to marry the daughter of a wealthy merchant, by dressing up as a god and demanding the merchant give Taro the girls hand in marriage. The merchant asks Taro’s mother if he can marry, but his mother has plans of her own. Now, Taro is not the laziest person and no one calls him “The Boy of the Three-Y ...more
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