Thursday, July 14, 2022

Summer Reading 2022 The Secret Forest Friends

In this charming sequel to The Mailbox in the Forest, Mayu returns to visit her grandparents and see her friend Konta the fox again. When Mayu learns that she will be spending part of her summer vacation with her grandparents, she immediately writes to let Konta know. Their friend the bird serves as a letter carrier and makes sure that the message arrives safely. And once she arrives, Mayu learns that her grandfather had adventures in the forest when he was a child - giving them another thing in common.

This series is perfect for children who enjoy simple stories with relatable characters and problems that can be solved without too much heartache. The illustrations capture the quiet peace of the forest, the fun of playing in the forest with a friend, and the certainty of having loved ones to depend on. Kazue's style embraces the kawaii quality of being cute and adorable; Mayu with her beribboned hat and Konta with his satchel are definitely cute characters, and the scene of Grandpa giving Konta a piggyback ride is certainly adorable.

Another aspect of these stories is the use of letter writing. In the first book, Grandpa tells Mayu, "Letters are things that can bring you joy no matter how many times you read them." Mayu has taken that lesson to heart and she maintains her friendship with Konta through their letters. She even chooses to write to her grandparents rather than calling them about her visit, because she knows that Grandpa will treasure the letter.

For those looking for quiet stories to read together at nap or bedtime, or for those who love Frank Asch's Bear books, the Little Bear books by Minarik, or the Kuma-Kuma Chan series, this is a great choice to continue that feeling of adventures that are not too scary or boisterous.

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