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Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  27,086 ratings  ·  3,014 reviews
This engaging series of childhood recollections tells about an ideal school in Tokyo during World War II that combined learning with fun, freedom, and love. This unusual school had old railroad cars for classrooms, and it was run by an extraordinary man--its founder and headmaster, Sosaku Kobayashi--who was a firm believer in freedom of expression and activity.
Paperback, 232 pages
Published May 15th 1996 by Kodansha (first published January 1st 1981)
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Ben Soon He is the boy that Tottochan likes
Sushma Most headmasters ask their prospective pupils a few questions, to see if they are smart enough for their age or just to check which grade they are fit…moreMost headmasters ask their prospective pupils a few questions, to see if they are smart enough for their age or just to check which grade they are fit for. Naturally, Totto-chan expected the new school headmaster might ask her questions to test her in order to admit to his school as a pupil.(less)
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  27,086 ratings  ·  3,014 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Madogiwa no Totto-chan = Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi

Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window is a children's book written by Japanese television personality and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The book was published originally as "Madogiwa no Totto-chan" in 1981, and became an instant bestseller in Japan.

The book is about the values of the unconventional education that Kuroyanagi received at Tomoe Gakuen, a Tokyo elementary school founded by ed
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book introduced me to the amazing world of memoirs. It deals with the story of Totto-Chan and her unconventional school called Tomoe Gakuen and its Headmaster, Sosaku Kobayashi. Rereading this book is just like reinventing my childhood. This little girl at the window brings a cartload of nostalgia with her. I was happy to hear that it was included in the curriculum in many countries as a textbook. I was also stunned to hear that it was banned in some school libraries as a television persona ...more
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window was written by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, a Japanese actress, who wrote this memoir based on her childhood experience at Tomoe Gakuen primary school, before World War II.

Totto-chan, who was labeled as a troublemaker by her teacher, was forced to leave school. Her anxious mother then took her to Tomoe Gakuen, a school ran by headmaster Mr. Kobayashi, who had utterly different views on schooling than the other educators of his time. He was an educator who believe
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I believe books can do magic. They can hypnotize you, they can make you laugh, they can even break your heart or they can take you to a journey you may have never dreamt of! Yeah, books are magic!

And this book of Totto chan is the greatest magic I have come across recently. I don’t think only five stars can truly express my feelings for this book!

Totto Chan, a first grader, Japanese girl lived in a world of her own. She loved to talk, loved to make new friends and always has a heap of questions
Shuhan Rizwan
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got this as a present from a Totto-chan look alike.
Had a sheer delightful read.
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled upon an important book the other day.

I probably found it because K is next to J and when I’m in a used bookstore, I always look for Tove Jansson books.

On this day at Retold Tales I noticed a little book called Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The brief dust jacket description told me it was a person’s true recollections about a school of “fun, freedom, and love” that met in old train cars.

I started reading it there on the floor and knew I’d buy it. I fi
In class 1, my Malayalam teacher used to read a chapter of this adorable book to us every Monday evening, before the school hours ended. I cannot remember how far we had reached before my teacher went on maternity leave, but we never completed the reading that school year. And now, here I am, finishing this book after 25 years – a quarter of a century later – in another language, in another city, on another Monday evening! :)
Mansi Sharma
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
How much better the world will be if parents and teachers could see what this book tries to say so beautifully! Totto-chan is a story that, if understood in spirit, would result in children who grow up to be sensitive adults and an education that equips children with the learning about themselves and forming healthy relationships with the world around them, and not merely with the expertise in passing this examination, and topping that.

Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, I love you for having written this. Y
Evelyn (devours and digests words)
Beautiful and poetically written!

A nostalgic read, too. Brought me to tears at the near ending.

The Girl at the Window is a memoir written in bits and snippets of the author's real experiences at her beloved school, Tomoe Gakuen. It is no ordinary school. 'Trains' served as the classrooms because of the lack of funds and it was a difficult time with war brewing around the corner.

Sosaku Kobayashi is the headmaster of the school who acts like both parent and teacher figure. Even after his death,
Library Next Door
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread this memorable book that i've read it when i was in elementary school. I'm trying to fly away in sweet memorable things in elementary school. This book is awesome. I always had a warm feeling after read it. It should be required reading for anyone involved in education and highly recommended to you and all of parents

Favorite Quote :
"Having eyes, but not seeing beauty; having ears, but not hearing music; having minds, but not perceiving truth; having hearts that are never moved and ther
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Relived my childhood days by rereading this one 😁 Absolutely delightful 😍
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I usually avoid "wonderful teacher" books like the plague, but then those books are often written by the teacher him/herself, or ghost-written with their approval, and can be oh so self-congratulatory. This one, however, was written by a student whose school experiences truly formed her character.

Totto-chan is expelled from school (in first grade!) for being disruptive. She's not hostile or violent, just curious and easily bored. I suppose today they'd call her hyperactive or ADD or something li
Rose Ann
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Such a charming book!

I do have to say, I would have finished this much sooner...it is normally a nice, quick read...but life with my 3 kids has been busy lately, so it took longer than normal.

Totto-Chan was very fortunate to be able to go to school at Tomoe.
I wish there were more schools like it.
I love that the headmaster really was committed to these children and their education. Making sure to let Totto-Chan know..."...you really are a good girl, you know." Always giving her that positive rei
Shimin Mushsharat
I am so incredibly grateful for this one! One of the best books I have ever read.
Eden Rose
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It made my eyes water
Missy J

I can see now why this childhood memoir is popular worldwide. It's a wonderful story advocating for respect, joy of learning and being kind to oneself and those around you. The author Tetsuko Kuroyanagi was born in 1933 in Japan. The story of this novel is set around the time when she was five years old, meaning just a few years before the Pacific War erupted.

Kuroyanagi wrote this book in dedication to her headmaster Mr. Kuboyashi. When Kuroyanagi first started her primary education, she was ki
Jan 23, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a charming memoir by a famous Japanese television personality about her time at the wonderfully unconventional school she attended in Tokyo in the early 1940s. At Tomoe School, there were no buildings as all the classrooms were in disused railroad cars, children were encouraged to study what they wanted when they wanted, in the warm weather they all swam nude in the pool without self consciousness, they learned respect for themselves and for each other, and apparently most of them grew u ...more
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book was send to me by my mom. When i was new to motherhood and complaining about this and that. She said i am sending you this book, read it. And yes it is wonderful book. How kids have their own imaginations and definition of education can be different to every child:). I think everyone should read this book:).
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Omg I loved this book so much! It was soooo cute and sweet I enjoyed reading every short story of her childhood that Kuroyanagi included.
I can't believe I only came across this book today on GR and realized I forgot to add it xD
* Plot * : Totto-chan is a mischievous little girl who is overactive and loves to explore the world around her. However, her out-of-the-blue questions resulted in her being labeled as a troublemaker. Having to transfer school multiple times, her mother found an unusu
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful memoir about a lucky little Japanese girl who got to attend an experimental & progressive primary school during WWII. Part historical fiction, part children's realistic fiction, part treatise on education... and even a little bit like Mister God, This is Anna; I think readers following this thread [Batchelder awards in Children's Books group] might enjoy it.

The illustrations were not drawn for the book but they suit it perfectly. Read the interesting preface for information. The transl
Abhishek Saha Joy
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japanese
This book portraits the journey of a little girl Totto-chan and her school life during World War II.As a matter of fact,in this book the writer Tetsuko Kuroyanagi reminisced her childhood memories.

We all know that,a child's mind is one of the purest things in this world.Instead of forceing them to go to school with a pile of books,we should guide them to bloom on their own way.We should keep their curiosity awakened.That's the way of making a 'real' human being!

Mr. Sosaku Kobayashi,take a bow.Un
It was okay but somehow this book wasnt for me.
But it was fine after all.
Saima Taher  Shovon
All i know is -this book stole my heart❣
Emily P
Jan 30, 2022 rated it it was amazing
What a timeless book! Read it first time when I was in primary school, second time with my brother and the third time now with my primary school-aged sister. Every night we gathered around the bed laughing, giggling, moved or teary-eyed. A lively memoir of an alternative educational system that believed in every child’s potential, and the mind of a curious and free-spirited child navigating a world at once beautiful and heartbreaking. This book is a nourishing treat for everyone’s inner child.
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As a memoir, the book is unusual. It only spans a few years and during these years the narrator can be no older than about 9. It isn't exactly what you'd expect from Tetsuko Kuroyanagi either. Nothing is explicitly laid out as to how she decided to get into television, theater for the deaf, or how she became the first UNICEF ambassador. The focus was on much more basic aspects of the authors personality and where they came from. The stories are funny, sad, heartwarming, and universal. You don't ...more
I took almost a month to finish this because some eye troubles, otherwise this is a fun and a very entertaining book to read and it's the true story of the author herself Tetsuko Kuroyanagi/Totto-chan.

Totto-chan is a hyperactive little girl in first grade full of excitement and enthusiasm. She gets expelled from first grade shortly after the school year started. Her parents enrolls her to a rather unique school in Tokyo, Tomoe founded by Sosaku Kobayashi, the headmaster who uses creative, practi
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There is no way I am ging to able to write a conventional "review" of this book. It is a book that read before I knew what it meant for the books to be close to your heart. But, subconsciously, I have always felt as if, I was ordered to read that book that night by a supreme force. I read this, staying up late before a very important exam (good thing, my mom does not use Goodreads :D ) and could not put it down. I got emotional, I got happy for the protagonist, felt sad and shared her sadness on ...more
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
My friend Erika took a boat from South Korea to visit me in Japan. They were sailing through the Inland Sea in the evening and the tannoy system called everyone to the deck to admire the view; lights, clam sea, moon, thousands of islands, etc. In an American accent it was promised that "...we will create unforgettable nostalgia..." and I think she said they played some music to get everyone in the mood for unforgettable nostalgia.

"Totto-chan" is natsukashiiii to the max and very cutsey-poo. But
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Main Event 7 10 Nov 09, 2021 08:43PM  
Moral Values 6 8 Nov 09, 2021 08:39PM  
Social Value 6 8 Nov 09, 2021 08:36PM  
Education 6 7 Nov 09, 2021 07:49PM  
Friendship 6 7 Nov 09, 2021 07:38PM  
Totto-Chan Character 6 11 Nov 09, 2021 07:25PM  
Moral Values 1 2 Nov 09, 2021 05:24PM  

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Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is an internationally famous Japanese actress, a talk show host, a best-selling author of children book.

She founded the Totto Foundation, named for the eponymous and autobiographical protagonist of her book Totto-chan, The Little Girl at the Window. The Foundation professionally trains deaf actors, implementing Kuroyanagi's vision of bringing theater to the deaf.

In 1984, in reco

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73 likes · 8 comments
“Having eyes, but not seeing beauty; having ears, but not hearing music; having minds, but not perceiving truth; having hearts that are never moved and therefore never set on fire. These are the things to fear, said the headmaster.” 222 likes
“Drying her eyes, Mother said to Totto-chan very slowly, "You're Japanese and Masao-chan comes from a country called Korea. But he's a child, just like you. So, Totto-chan, dear, don't ever think of people as different. Don't think, 'That person's a Japanese, or this person's a Korean.' Be nice to Masao-chan. It's so sad that some people think other people aren't nice just because they're Koreans.” 54 likes
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