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Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog
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What's the story?
Kentaro goes to the train station to meet his father, and there gets to know Hachiko, Dr. Ueno's loyal dog. Hachiko walks Dr. Ueno to the station every day, and every day he's waiting there when Dr. Ueno returns in the evening.
But one night Dr. Ueno doesn't return -- he has died at work. Hachiko returns every night to wait for him, even after he is taken miles away. Kentaro, his family, and others bring him food and water. This goes on for years, until finally Hachiko himself dies. And at the spot where he waited so faithfully, the townspeople erect a statue in his memory.
Is it any good?
Like a Japanese haiku, this book is as notable for what's missing as for what's present. Based on a true story, it is spare, elegant, without any cloying Western sentimentality -- no tugging at the heartstrings, no anthropomorphizing, no dramatic death scenes, just a matter-of-fact telling of an affecting true story through the eyes of a fictional boy.
Though the story is universal, the author and illustrator adroitly drop in details of Japanese life: "Ladies in kimonos walked carefully, trying to keep their white tabi socks away from the grime of the streets." The author also includes a "Story About the Story."