A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The characters go between living their daily lives in modern Japan and uncovering riddles and meeting people from old Japan. The reader learns much about Japanese climate, traditions, history, and lore. Furthermore, there's an afterword in which the author provides more detail about many features presented in the story, including places, historical figures, paper art, festivals, and language.
Hannah is courageous when she accompanies her mother to Japan despite not wanting to go. Once there, she readily makes a friend in Miki, and is respectful of the family and culture. Throughout the story, Hannah, Miki, and Hiro work together to solve riddles and use teamwork to overcome mysteries and dangers.
Positive Role Models
Hannah, Miki, and Hiro are all positive role models. They care about each other, they work together to solve dilemmas and uncover mysteries, they respect their families, and they are engaged in intriguing pursuits. The adult characters are all supportive of the kids; they offer wisdom and companionship, and while Hanna's parents are not involved in the story much, Miki's parents, grandmother, and aunt are all likable and important in the story.
Violence & Scariness
There's no real violence in this story, but old stories are told in which a girl child was kept as a prisoner and an ancient female nanny kept a boy child for herself. Ghosts are mentioned.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
There's no crass or bad language in this story. There are many Japanese words and terms used throughout the story.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Brad Pitt and 7-11 are mentioned once.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a gentle fantasy with no edgy influences. There's a lot of descriptive language and Japanese history embedded in the story, which may be new for many readers. The riddle and clues are not easily discernable, and at times readers may have to flip pages back and forth to make sure they understand the plot.
Is It Any Good?
This story is steeped in Japanese history, culture, climate, people, and language, and the author has a clear appreciation for the quiet beauty of that country. The story is a gentle fantasy that has its main characters going between their real lives in modern Japan to a mystical realm in which they try to help a ghost boy reunite with his family. The combination of fact and fantasy will work for some readers, yet others may find it too grounded to allow real imagination to pervade. The mood is quiet like snow and sweet as innocent friendship, yet the plot is also slightly confusing. The clues are cryptic and often uncovered by luck rather than skill. The drama of talking dragons, scary ghosts, and missing parents is somehow lost, and the emotional impact of the adventures is rather matter-of-fact. Readers with an interest in Japan and a taste for intricately woven tales will enjoy this story, but readers requiring more action and emotional involvement may want to look elsewhere.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate