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Japanese Authors of Children's Literature: A Special-Feature Section of Outstanding Authors

Writers and Illustrators

Portrait of Masamoto Nasu

Masamoto Nasu

1942- List of books

Masamoto Nasu was born in Hiroshima City. At the age of three, he was exposed to radiation in Hiroshima, where the atomic bomb was dropped. After studying forest entomology at Shimane Agricultural University, he worked in Tokyo for a short time as an office worker, then returned home and began helping with his father’s calligraphy school. His elder sister, children’s writer Mayumi Takeda, invited him to join the Hiroshima Society for Children’s Literature. He began writing children’s literature while continuing to interact with the children attending his father’s calligraphy school.

His debut work was the Kubinashi jizo no takara [The treasure of the headless jizo](1972), a treasure hunt novel. He has vigorously published his works since then. Many of his works poses problems to children, such as Yaneura no tooi tabi [Distant journey in the attic](1975), which use science fiction techniques to help children experience what is was like when Japan was at war. He talks about war in the 1995 picture book E de yomu Hiroshima no genbaku [Hiroshima: A tragedy never to be repeated] (illustrations by Shigeo Nishimura) and 1984 non-fiction work Orizuru no kodomotachi: Genbakusho to tatakatta Sasaki Sadako to kyuyutachi [The children of the paper crane: The story of Sadako Sasaki and her struggle with the A-Bomb disease]. The 1992 picture book Nendo no kamisama [The clay god] (illustrations by Miho Takeda) depicts the fading memories of war experience among Japanese and makes children think about the difficulty of living peacefully.

In 1980, Nasu published Bokura wa umi e [We'll go out to the sea], which was different from the stereotype way of the ideal children’s literature. On the other hand, from 1978 to 2004, he also published fifty volumes of Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio] series about the adventures of a sixth grade trio of boys named Hachibei, Hakase and Mo-chan. Presented as entertainment, the series showed the children readers various problems they face in the present, past and future, and gained such a large readership, and it can be considered a “cultural education” for children for a certain period in Japan.

Thumbnail of Tonneru to bidama to wasuregai [Tunnel, marbles and a forgetting shell]

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C-6-1Tonneru to bidama to wasuregai [Tunnel, marbles and a forgetting shell]
Edited by Kodomo no ie dojin/Illustrated by Toshio Kajiyama
Maki Shoten 1971
(Jido bungaku dojinshi series [Children's literature's coterie magazine series] 3)
Call No. Y7-2477
Collection of short stories written by members of Kodomo no ie [Children's house], a coterie magazine by Hiroshima jidou bungaku kenkyukai (Hiroshima children's literature research group). Includes the first work by the author Bidama [Marble], a story leaving a strong impression about a boy who can beat everybody only when playing marbles. A story by Mayumi Takeda, the elder sister of the author, is also included in the book. The image is the title page.

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C-6-2Kubinashi jizo no takara [The treasure of the headless jizo]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Tatsuo Ikeda
Gakushu Kenkyu Sha 1972
(Atarashii Nihon no dowa shirizu [New Japanese children's stories series] 18)
Call No. Y7-3185
The Gakken Children's Literature Award-winning story has been published as this book. Two transfer students in the fifth grade finds a code that leads to a buried treasure. Another friend joins them, and the trio's treasure hunting takes on a reality. Urbanization and other serious themes are also seen, which becomes the origin of the author's subsequent works.

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C-6-3Yaneura no tooi tabi [Distant journey in the attic]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Atsuro Nanba
Kaisei-Sha 1975
(Shonen shojo sosaku bungaku [Original literature for boys and girls])
Call No. Y7-4514
A science fiction story for children. When two sixth graders climb down to their classroom from an attic, they land on a parallel world where Japan had won the Pacific War. The stifling life during wartime, when the military and government had strong power, is revealed gradually.

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C-6-4Bokura wa umi e [We'll go out to the sea]
Written by Masamoto Nasu
Bungeishunju 2010
(Bunshun bunko [Bunshun library])
Call No. KH431-J294 (First ed. Y7-7905)
A paperback edition of a story that wiped out the bright and healthy image of children's literature, marking a new start for children's literature of the 80s. Five children escape from their troubled reality and head for the sea. The paperback edition for adults was published after thirty years from the first edition.

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C-6-5Sagishi tachi no sora [Sky of the swindlers]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Toshitaka Sekiya
POPLAR Publishing 1992
(Kokoro ni nokoru bungaku [Memorable literature] 8)
Call No. Y8-9466
A junior high school boy leaves his home and starts living with a swindler in Osaka. The violent depictions of delinquents extorting money and yakuza (Japanese gangsters) beating people up are shocking, but the author's fury toward the social system and warm eyes toward those who live at the bottom of the society, can be sensed.

Thumbnail of Orizuru no kodomotachi: Genbakusho to tatakatta Sasaki Sadako to kyuyutachi [Children of the paper crane: The story of Sadako Sasaki and her struggle with the A-bomb disease]

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C-6-6Orizuru no kodomotachi: Genbakusho to tatakatta Sasaki Sadako to kyuyutachi [Children of the paper crane: The story of Sadako Sasaki and her struggle with the A-bomb disease]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Saburo Takada
PHP Institute 1984
(PHP kokoro no nonfikushon [PHP heart-moving nonfiction stories])
Call No. Y8-1743
This non-fiction story consists of two parts; the first story is about a twelve year-old girl Sadako Sasaki who died of leukemia from atomic bomb radiation, and the second story is about the movement to build a memorial statue ‘Children's Peace Monument’ modeled after Sadako. The author was born in the same year as Sadako.

Thumbnail of E de yomu Hiroshima no genbaku [Hiroshima: A tragedy never to be repeated]

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C-6-7E de yomu Hiroshima no genbaku [Hiroshima: A tragedy never to be repeated]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Shigeo Nishimura
Fukuinkan Shoten 1995
(Kagaku no hon [Children's science books])
Call No. Y1-2103
Illustrations by Shigeo Nishimura, who devoted himself to accurately depict the city of Hiroshima and the lives of its people from prewar to postwar with a detailed panoramic view, and the words by Masamoto Nasu that depicted the extent of the radiation exposure in Hiroshima City, principles of atomic bombs, the history of the development and the decision to drop the atomic bomb, and the scientific description of what happened after the radiation exposure, strongly moves the readers.

Thumbnail of Hiroshima, 1 (Arukidashita hi) [Hiroshima, vol.1 (The day of the  beginning)]

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C-6-8Hiroshima, 1 (Arukidashita hi) [Hiroshima, vol.1 (The day of the beginning)]
Written by Masamoto Nasu
POPLAR Publishing 2011
Call No. KH431-J447
An account of the postwar history through the eyes of ordinary people, featuring a woman in her 30s running an okonomiyaki restaurant in Koi district, Hiroshima City. The first story of a trilogy that continues as Hiroshima, 2 (Samazamana yokan [Various foresights]) and Hiroshima, 3 (Megurikuru natsu [Recurring summers]).

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C-6-9Nendo no kamisama [The clay god]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Miho Takeda
POPLAR Publishing 1992
(Ehon wa tomodachi [Picture books are friends] 27)
Call No. Y18-7513
A picture book version of the story published in 1992 in the thirty-seventh issue of Akuukan [Subspace], a coterie magazine. A ‘god of clay’ created in hopes of peace by a boy living in the middle of the mountains fifty years ago, transforms into a huge monster and heads for Tokyo. This story poses a primordial question of the Japanese society of today. Miho Takeda is a picture book author with her masterpiece Tonari no seki no Masudakun [Sharing a desk with Masuda].

Thumbnail of Hiroshima okonomiyaki monogatari: Fushigina tabemono ga umareta nowa naze? [The tale of Hiroshima okonomiyaki: How did the marvelous dish come about?]

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C-6-10Hiroshima okonomiyaki monogatari: Fushigina tabemono ga umareta nowa naze? [The tale of Hiroshima okonomiyaki: How did the marvelous dish come about?]
Written by Masamoto Nasu
PHP Institute 2004
(PHP nonfikushon [PHP nonfiction])
Call No. Y2-N04-H149
A historical nonfiction story about a restaurant changing along with the postwar society, serving Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki which became a nationwide dish. Illustrations by Yoko Okawa adds a warmth to this story.

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C-6-11Zukkoke sanjushi [The three funny musketeers]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa
Rokunen no gakushu [Sixth Grader’s Study] vol. 31, no.1 (April 1976 material)
Gakushu Kenkyu Sha 1976
Call No. Z32-294
A series born from the concept of creating a story like the "Three Musketeers" for children (Serialized in Rokunen no gakushu [Sixth grader's study], April 1976 to March 1977). Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa, who was also a cartoonist. It quickly became a big hit.

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C-6-12Soreike zukkoke sanningumi [Let’s go, funny trio]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa
POPLAR Publishing 1983
(Popurasha bunko [POPLAR Publishing library])
Call No. Y8-1338 (First ed. Y7-6567)
Zukkoke sanjushi [The three funny musketeers] was published by Poplar Publishing as Soreike zukkoke sanningumi [Let's go, funny trio] in 1978 and became a series. A paperback edition was published after five years. At the end of the first book, the boys call themselves the “Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]” which did not appear in the magazine. The image shown here is the title page.

Thumbnail of Bokura wa zukkoke tanteidan [We are the funny detectives club]

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C-6-13Bokura wa zukkoke tanteidan [We are the funny detectives club]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa
POPLAR Publishing 1979
(Kodomo bungakukan [Museum of children's literature])
Call No. Y7-7344
Second book of the “Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]” series. This is a detective type story in which the trio gets involved in a murder case by accident and solves the mystery by using their characters.

Thumbnail of Zukkoke jikan hyoryuki [Funny trio lost in time]

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C-6-14Zukkoke jikan hyoryuki [Funny trio lost in time]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa
POPLAR Publishing 1982
(Kodomo bungakukan [Museum of children's literature])
Call No. Y7-9999
The sixth book of the series. The trio travels back to the Edo era and are helped by Gennai Hiraga. While the story evolves with humor, history and culture are accurately depicted and raise issues on various themes such as the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Thumbnail of Zukkoke sanzoku shugyochu [The funny bandits on training]

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C-6-15Zukkoke sanzoku shugyochu [The funny bandits on training]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa
POPLAR Publishing 1984
(Kodomo bungakukan [Museum of children's literature])
Call No. Y8-2191
The tenth book of the "Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]" series. The trio are held in captivity in a mountain. The author raises issues related to the current state of Japan and the world, while talking about the historical clan called Tsuchigumo (Ground spider) that secretly live in the Chugoku mountains, after being chased out from the outside world back in ancient times.

Thumbnail of Hana no zukkoke jido kaicho [The great funny student council president]

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C-6-16Hana no zukkoke jido kaicho [The great funny student council president]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa
POPLAR Publishing 1985
(Kodomo bungakukan [Museum of children's literature])
Call No. Y8-2644
The eleventh book of the "Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]" series. A story that prompts children to think about qualifications for leaders and the spirit of democracy through an election for the president of the elementary school student council. The author reveals in the postwords that the story is inspired by a letter from a reader.

Thumbnail of Zukkoke kekkon sodanjo [The funny dating agency]

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C-6-17Zukkoke kekkon sodanjo [The funny dating agency]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa
POPLAR Publishing 1987
(Kodomo bungakukan [Museum of children's literature])
Call No. Y8-4530
The fifteenth book of the "Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]" series. A story about Mo-chan's mother considering a second marriage. Showcases the distortions in the grownups’ world and is said to be the only story of the series that touches upon the negative side of the characters.

Thumbnail of Ooatari zukkoke uranai hyakka [The funny fortune telling encyclopedia]

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C-6-18Ooatari zukkoke uranai hyakka [The funny fortune telling encyclopedia]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa
POPLAR Publishing 1989
(Shin kodomo bungakukan [New museum of children's literature] 15)
Call No. Y8-6952
The twentieth book of the "Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]" series. When fortune telling has become popular in the trio's classroom, various doubts and suspicions rise and discord occurs. In the background, children are facing psychological problems through competition at the cram school.

Thumbnail of Zukkoke sanningumi to gakko no kaidan [Funny trio and the ghost stories in school]

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C-6-19Zukkoke sanningumi to gakko no kaidan [Funny trio and the ghost stories in school]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Original illustration by Kazuo Maekawa/Illustrated by Shin'ya Takahashi
POPLAR Publishing 1994
(Shin kodomo bungakukan [New museum of children's literature] 39)
Call No. Y9-1187
The thirtieth book of the “Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]” series. The ghost story which the trio created becomes real, and the entire school is thrown into a panic. The trio investigates the reason themselves and reveals why it happened. In the background, there is a ghost story boom.

Thumbnail of Zukkoke sanningumi no bakku tu za fyucha [Funny trio’s back to the future]

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C-6-20Zukkoke sanningumi no bakku tu za fyucha [Funny trio’s back to the future]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Original illustration by Kazuo Maekawa/Illustrated by Shin'ya Takahashi
POPLAR Publishing 1999
(Shin kodomo bungakukan [New museum of children's literature] 50)
Call No. Y8-M99-774
The fortieth book of the “Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]” series. Received the Noma children's literary prize in 2000. In 1999, the series started airing on NHK Television.

Thumbnail of Zukkoke sanningumi no sotsugyoshiki [Funny trio's graduation ceremony]

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C-6-21Zukkoke sanningumi no sotsugyoshiki [Funny trio's graduation ceremony]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Original illustration by Kazuo Maekawa/Illustrated by Shin'ya Takahashi
POPLAR Publishing 2004
(Shin kodomo bungakukan [New museum of children's literature] 60)
Call No. Y8-N04-H1195
The fiftieth book of the “Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]”series. This book was the last of the series. The ending of the series was taken up as news by the newspapers of the time.

Thumbnail of Zukkoke chunen sanningumi [Funny middle-aged trio]

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C-6-22Zukkoke chunen sanningumi [Funny middle-aged trio]
Written by Masamoto Nasu
POPLAR Publishing 2005
Call No. KH431-H440
A story published after the “Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]” series ended. The trio appear as forty-year-olds in this story. The environment surrounding them has completely changed, but the author writes the story in his mind saying that he “has written a story that brings happiness to the readers”.

Thumbnail of 活宝三人组出场记

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C-6-23活宝三人组出场记
Written by Masamoto Nasu/ Illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa/ Translated by Shaohua Lin
二十一世纪出版社 2010
(活宝3人组 ; 第1辑)
Call No. Y9-AZ5643
A Chinese translation of the Soreike Zukkoke sanningumi [Let’s go, funny trio]. The “活宝” in the Chinese title means “clown” or “joker”.

Thumbnail of Zukkoke sanningumi no daikenkyu: Nasu Masamoto kenkyu dokuhon [Large-scale research of the funny trio: a readers companion to the research of Masamoto Nasu]

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C-6-24Zukkoke sanningumi no daikenkyu: Nasu Masamoto kenkyu dokuhon [Large-scale research of the funny trio: a readers companion to the research of Masamoto Nasu]
Edited by Naoto Ishii and Takeo Miyakawa
POPLAR Publishing 1990
(Hyoron · jido bungaku no sakkatachi [Criticism, Writers of children's literature] 1)
Call No. KG582-E42
A research which revisits the current state of children's literature and culture and analyzes the future through looking into a broad range of Masamoto Nasu's works, including the “Zukkoke sanningumi [Funny trio]” series. The first book of a trilogy that continues on to “Second” and “Final.”

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C-6-25Shonen no burusu [Blues of the boy]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kohei Yamaguchi
Kaisei-Sha 1978
(Kaisei-Sha no sosaku bungaku [Original literature of Kaisei-Sha])
Call No. Y7-6710
First collection of short-short stories by the author. Consists of seventy-four stories. Some depict the modern world while some are written in the form of folk tales and science fiction. The story is told in a variety of ways, ranging from a heavy dose of black humor to elements of fantasy. Commentary written by Mayumi Takeda.

Thumbnail of Rokunenme no kurasukai: Nasu Masamoto sakuhin shu [The sixth year of the student meeting: The collection of Masamoto Nasu]

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C-6-26Rokunenme no kurasukai: Nasu Masamoto sakuhin shu [The sixth year of the student meeting: The collection of Masamoto Nasu]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Rei Yamaguchi
POPLAR Publishing 1984
(Sosaku kodomo bungaku [Original children's literature])
Call No. Y8-2117
Consists of ten stories including the title story about former kindergarten students who gathered for a class reunion after six years from graduation. Their reminiscing talk gradually focuses on a boy who is not there.

Thumbnail of Gokatei de dekiru tegaruna satsujin [An easy at-home murder]

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C-6-27Gokatei de dekiru tegaruna satsujin [An easy at-home murder]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Ko Hayashi
Kaisei-Sha 1997
(Kaisei-Sha mystery club])
Call No. Y8-M98-172
This is a mystery story in which Noriko, a high school girl, was suddenly falsely accused of shoplifting by an unknown man. Her reaction to defend herself leads to an unexpected result.

Thumbnail of Oedo no Hyakutaro [Hyakutaro of Edo]

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C-6-28Oedo no Hyakutaro [Hyakutaro of Edo]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Hideko Nagano
Iwasaki Shoten 1986
(Gendai no sosaku jido bungaku [Contemporary original children's literature])
Call No. Y8-3924
The first book of the six-volume set "Oedo no Hyakutaro [Hyakutaro of Edo]" series based in the Honjo Fukagawa area of Edo, in which Hyakutaro, a son of a hired thief-taker, solves the cases one after another. First appeared in Kodomo to dokusho [Children and reading] (January to December, 1986 issues). An entertainment work vividly depicting the lives of people of the Edo era.

Thumbnail of Ginta torimonocho: Yami no uranaishi [Ginta's detective stories, The fortune teller in the dark]

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C-6-29Ginta torimonocho: Yami no uranaishi [Ginta's detective stories, The fortune teller in the dark]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Hideko Nagano
Iwasaki Shoten 1999
(Bungaku no izumi [Spring of literature] 4)
Call No. Y8-M99-660
First book of the four-volume set “Ginta torimonocho [Ginta's detective stories]” series, which is a sequel to the “Oedo no Hyakutaro [Hyakutaro of Edo]” series. Ginta, Hyakutaro's brother-in-law, is the main character who solves the cases. As in the first series, there are many explanatory notes about life in the Edo era throughout the work.

Thumbnail of Ribon-chan no shingakki: Ribon-chan hai! [Ribbon-chan’s new semester: Ribbon-chan, Hi!]

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C-6-30Ribon-chan no shingakki: Ribon-chan hai! [Ribbon-chan’s new semester: Ribbon-chan, Hi!]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Kayo Murai
POPLAR Publishing 1988
(Kodomo dowakan [Children's story museum])
Call No. Y8-5196
The first book of the “Ribon-chan [Ribbon-chan]” series. Maki, who is now in the third grade of elementary school, tries to be ‘nice’ to a transfer student but... The story is led by illustrations in cartoon and picture diary style which accompany the main text.

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C-6-31Iyori no mahocho [The magic book of Iyori]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Genichi Yamanishi
POPLAR Publishing 2005
(Iyori no mahocho [The magic book of Iyori] 1)
Call No. Y8-N05-H577
The first book of the six-volume set. Funny things happen one after another when Iyori, a fourth grade elementary school student, brings home a puppy she found on her way back from school.

Thumbnail of Kaizoku Mogan wa boku no tomodachi [My friend, Captain Morgan]

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C-6-32Kaizoku Mogan wa boku no tomodachi [My friend, Captain Morgan]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Toshitaka Sekiya
POPLAR Publishing 1993
(Nasu Masatomo no ehon [Picture book by Masamoto Nasu] 1)
Call No. Y18-8118
Yoichi, a fifth grade elementary school student, is given a Boatswain's call, a kind of small pipe, as a keepsake from his deceased grandfather who was a sailor. That night, Captain Morgan, who knew his grandfather very well, comes to pick Yoichi up on a pirate ship to embark on an adventure. A series of three volumes.

Thumbnail of Bokura no chizu ryoko [A journey with a map]

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C-6-33Bokura no chizu ryoko [A journey with a map]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Shigeo Nishimura
Fukuinkan Shoten 1989
(Kagaku no hon [Children's science books])
Call No. Y2-932
A story of two fifth grade elementary school boys, who traveled for almost eight kilometers with a map in hand, to confirm their friend’s assertion that the lighthouse is not where it should be. The setting of this story is Aio Town of Yoshiki County in Yamaguchi Prefecture, facing the Seto Inland Sea. Received the Nippon ehon sho (Japan picture book award).

Thumbnail of Nora neko taisho [Stray cat, the chief]

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C-6-34Nora neko taisho [Stray cat, the chief]
Written by Masamoto Nasu
Kumon Publishing 2001
(Nasu Masatomo no dobutsu monogatari [Animal stories by Masamoto Nasu] 3)
Call No. Y8-N01-386
This is an eight-volume set of the "Doubutsu monogatari [Animal stories]" series, which are stories about an ecological system with foxes, crows, monkeys as main characters. Nora neko taisho [Stray cat, the chief] is a story of Kuro, a cat abandoned by an unscrupulous human, grows into a strong cat in the unknown land he mistakenly wandered into.

Thumbnail of Nazo no toranpu uranaishi [The mysterious trump card fortune teller]

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C-6-35Nazo no toranpu uranaishi [The mysterious trump card fortune teller]
Written by Masamoto Nasu/Illustrated by Ikuo Nishimura
Komine Shoten 1998
(Korokke tanteidan [Croquette detectives] 1)
Call No. Y8-M99-163
The first volume of the "Korokke tanteidan [Croquette detectives]" series. A murder occurs in a town where Keijiro Igawa, a fifth grader nicknamed Korokke (Croquette), lives. With his friends and brothers, Korokke catches the murderer.