Today I read my kindergarten class the book Sumo Joe by Mia Wenjen and Illustrated by Nat Iwats, published by Lee & Low Books, 2019. I received the book donation courtesy of Multicultural Children's Book Day. #ReadYourWorld
A highly engaging story about a gentle big brother who practices sumo wrestling with his friends, tying on mawashi belts and blessing the ring with salt, before competing in their ring of pillows. When little sister Aikido Jo wants to join the boy-only place, the reluctant acceptance leads to Aikido Jo beating Sumo Joe, and a pillow fight celebration with all in the end. The vibrant illustrations make the reader feel part of each small moment, with a variety of full bleeds, double spreads, and vignettes. The text is fluent and fun to read aloud with rhyme, short sentences, questions, statements, and commas. I love how the Author's Note expands upon the sumo tradition and how it is evolving to be more gender inclusive. There is also a fantastic picture glossary.
During the reading of this, the kindergarten listeners were very responsive, both with physical and oral responses. They laughed, they stood up and cheered, they learned that sumo wrestlers are not wearing underwear. Many of the kids tried different sumo like moves. When I shared the purple end papers with shadows of sumo moves, the kids requested I pause long enough for them to try the moves in sequence, like a musician playing each note.
I highly recommend this picture book. It could serve as a model text for narrative writing and small moment stories. A great topic. The first book I have ever had and read to my students about sumo wrestling. Reading it aloud led to us discussing things that siblings or someone older have taught us, and for some of the kindergarten writers, it served as a portal to their own writing, helping them generate an idea.