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Book Review: 『のほほん絵日記』by さくらももこ

This is not the post I planned to write today (I thought I would post in my “currently reading” section), but I heard on Monday that Momoko Sakura had died from cancer on the 15th. I thought it would be appropriate to devote this Wednesday’s post to one of her books.

Momoko Sakura is well known for her manga 『ちびまる子ちゃん』but she also wrote a lot of other books and 『のほほん絵日記』is one of them. I bought and read it some time ago but for some reason, never wrote a review of it.

『のほほん絵日記』is a collection of short illustrated journal entries. Initially, these entries were written for a Suntory campaign made in 1999 for their のほほん茶, a product which is, I think, discontinued. I don’t know how Momoko Sakura’s work was integrated into the campaign, but she made 48 entries for Suntory. Later, she decided to collect all of them in a book and added 40 more entries. She describes, in the postscript, how she spent three nights and two days in a hotel in Atami with her staff to write these 40 entries.

When she started the series for Suntory, her son was 4, but he was 6 when she finished the missing 40 entries. Momoko Sakura says in her postscript:

この一冊の中で、一番成長ぶりが感じられるのは息子かな、と思います。ちなみに他の家族は今さら何一つ成長していませんが… (p.189-190)

The stories are about Momoko Sakura’s daily life and feature members of her family and other characters. I think that people can easily relate to these stories and end up reading them with a smile on their face because it reminds them of their own experience or simply because these stories are cute, sometimes funny and always sincere.

I personally could relate to a lot of them: when she does the grocery shopping with an empty stomach and ends up buying more than she could possibly eat; or when she crafts a cute calendar for the house and realises that her mother made a stupid entry in it with a ballpoint pen, haha.

This is an example of the book’s layout:

p.104-105 (sorry for the poor quality of the pictures). Each story comes with a title, a coloured illustration and a handwritten text.

I like this entry because I didn’t know there could be more than 10 different sorts of umeboshi (!) and because I always find it strange when Japanese eat umeboshi, make the face you normally make when you eat umeboshi, and then say that it is delicious!

Conclusion

I really enjoy having this book, and I will certainly read more of Momoko Sakura’s work. 『のほほん絵日記』is the kind of book that you pick up from time to time to read one or two entries. Of course, one could read it in one session, but I personally prefer to open it randomly and read or re-read the entry there. In any case, it is a nice book, the drawings are cute, the text is handwritten, and the stories can easily speak to a lot of people, I think.

Reference: 『のほほん絵日記』、さくらももこ、集英社文庫.

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