But when she goes to throw the clams into the boiling water, she looks into the bowl: the clams are still sleeping, still snoring, and still moving contentedly. It is "a little upsetting." Maybe they could wait until tomorrow night, she thinks. After all, there’s nothing wrong with miso soup without shijimi clams, right? Toraji is clearly annoyed.
The following night, the same thing happens – plain miso soup again. And then, in the middle of the night. Toraji comes into the bedroom to complain that the shijimi clams have woken him up. And sure enough, when the witch goes into the kitchen, the clams are wide awake and talking. These clams are far away from home, and they are very homesick! What are a poor witch and her cat to do?
I read this picture book to my daughters (7 & 9 years old), and we all enjoyed it. The story was fresh and original, and the clams were so darned cute! It was easy to see why the old witch – and even her cat – come to find them so endearing. The Japanese setting, a refreshing change from that of most picture books, is understated yet adds a certain sense of the exotic to the story. Whimsical yet simple black-and-white ink drawings complement the text nicely - I particularly enjoyed the hilarious expressions on the cat’s face. I highly recommend this sweet story of determination, ingenuity and friendship.
Singing Shijimi Clams by Naomi Kojima (Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2006)
Other blog reviews: Here and There Japan