Tasty Baby Belly Buttons: A Japanese Folktale

Book review by
Whitney Stewart, Common Sense Media
Tasty Baby Belly Buttons: A Japanese Folktale Book Poster Image
Japanese tale is reinvented with humor.

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Kids say

age 2+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

An almost slapstick battle may frighten toddlers. The littlest listeners may fear the monsters.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the monsters that make off with a bunch of babies may worry some little ones. But humorous, repetitious language will have kids changing aloud.

User Reviews

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Kid, 11 years old November 2, 2013


Stupid. A waste of your time.

What's the story?

Little conquers big! Big monsters munch baby belly buttons, but a little girl defeats a gang of them and rescues a bunch of babies. Read-aloud audiences will love pointing at the amusing pictures and shouting that fun, bounce-off-your-lips phrase: "Tasty baby belly buttons!"


Is it any good?

Meilo So's wild, swirling lines and unusual greens and oranges help create an otherworldly setting that matches the timeless folktale narrative. Picture-book audiences wiggle with mild fear when the author brings on the terrible oni. In well-timed passages, she eases the tension by highlighting tender moments between the old Japanese couple and Uriko.

The pages almost turn by themselves as Uriko marches off in her tall wooden sandals to find the monsters who have kidnapped the town's babies. The energy comes to a climax in the slapstick scene in which Uriko and her friends outmaneuver the fat-bellied oni. The only problematic aspect to this original telling of an old Japanese tale is in the foreign phrases that do not correspond to sounds English-speaking children understand. Some readers enjoy the unfamiliar phrases, but others are distracted by the sounds.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the David-and-Goliath nature of the story. Little Uriko dares to do what none of the adults will do. What do you admire about her? Do you think you would be so brave?

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