Takeshita DemonsThis exciting adventure features Japanese supernatural demons – yokai – and a young girl’s fight to protect her younger brother. Yokai are well known in Japan and still an important part of Japanese folklore, but they are little known outside of Japan. Twelve-year-old Miku Takeshita has recently moved to London, but she misses her grandmother terribly. In Japan, her grandmother taught her about the secrets of the spirit world, including Zashiko, the child-ghost who protected them from hostile spirits and demons. But Miku’s grandmother has died and it is up to Miku to remember these traditions and secrets. Every day, Miku tries to remember to check that the cedar leave is still placed above the door to protect her family from evil spirits. But her mother thinks this is all nonsense.
by Cristy Burne
illustrated by Siku
London: Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2010
ages 9 – 12
available on Amazon and at your local library
One winter day, Miku arrives at school to find that they have a substitute teacher who turns out to be an evil, child-eating nukekubi demon. That night, strange events start happening and Miku’s little brother disappears while she is watching over him. A breathless adventure follows, with Miku and her friend Cait battling the nukekubi, with her flying head and supernatural powers.
This is a fast-paced story that will appeal to readers who are looking for a scary story with a Japanese Manga twist. It is smaller in scale than the Percy Jackson series; Takeshita Demons is just under 150 pages long, while Rick Riordan's novels regularly weigh in at 400 pages plus. I think this is a huge advantage for many readers. I would gladly hand this to a 4th grader, or perhaps even a 3rd grader who likes action and is okay with some scary confrontations.A little brother is kidnapped and threatened by the demon, but no harm comes to him.
Takeshita Demons was original published in the UK, and won the inaugural The Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Childrens Book Award for diversity in children's fiction, for a middle grade novel by a previously unpublished author. Author Cristy Burnes spent many years in Japan and became fascinated with folklore about the yokai, Japanese spirits and demons.
For another review, check out the always-excellent Paper Tigers. "Cristy Burne has created a fast-paced story full of suspense that is further intensified by Miku's matter-of-fact narration. Cait’s incredulity at Miku’s initial explanations, and then her own involvement in subsequent events allow Western readers to be pulled into the Japanese spirit world that Miku so takes for granted."
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