• Kana Wu

Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐

Updated: Jun 20

Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window is written by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. It is a story of her childhood recollections and translated into English by Dorothy Britton.

The story begins after Totto-Chan, a first-grade student, is expelled from her old school. Her mom brings her to meet Mr. Sosaku Kobayashi, the founder and the headmaster of Tomoe Gakuen. Totto-Chan loves the headmaster instantly because he let her talk for four solid hours without interrupting or yawning. His acceptance makes her feel safe and loved and she decides to study at his school.

Tomoe Gakuen is different from her old school. Its classrooms were repurposed abandoned railroad cars. There is neither seating arrangement nor standard subject to learn. Students study independently and seek advice from teachers when necessary. It is a very unconventional approach considering the story that took place in Tokyo during WWII. Here, Totto-Chan can express herself freely without being admonished or scolded by her teachers. She has many friends and learns that everybody is different but beautiful. Throughout the story, she is described as a gentle and smart girl and cares about people in her way, including pulling her classmate who has polio on the stepladder up so he could be in ‘her’ tree.

I enjoy this book so much as I always wished to read it when I was young. It has a charming story with a beautiful narrative that captured the child inside me.

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