A bit of a different post than the usual one book review, but bringing back my Let’s Read Three series for this picture book series about two little girls Chirri and Chirra who go on three different adventures with their bicycles and animal friends. Let’s read three Chirri & Chirra books by Kaya Doi, all translated from the Japanese by Yuki Kaneko.
First up is the very first book simply called Chirri & Chirra. It was originally published in 2003, and came to the US via Enchanted Lion Books in 2016. It is a sweet story about the two girls going on a bicycle ride into the forest.
They have yummy food at both a forest cafe and a forest bakery, before stopping for a special evening at a forest hotel that even includes a magical forest concert.
The soft and muted style of the illustrations adds to the classic feel and everlasting charm of the book. I love the animals, Doi’s expertly handled rendering of bicycles which are shockingly difficult to illustrate, and the sweet simplicity of the story arc.
The second book is Chirri & Chirra In the Tall Grass, published originally in 2007, and in the US in 2017. It is also a simple story, but fantastical in the surprising things and adventures that Chirri and Chirra see and find in the tall grass in the meadow in front of their house.
In this one, Chirri & Chirra go deep into the tall grass and visit a bumblebee house, flower chafer’s house, and a lizard’s house. In each place they have something yummy to eat, then drink, and then help make something delightful.
It is a softly moving, lightly exciting adventure of a book that must spark so much imagination and creativity while exploring nature.
The last book in this trio, though it looks like there are more Chirri & Chirra books but I’m unsure how many, is Chirri & Chirra The Snowy Day originally published in 2010, but also released in the US in 2017.
In this snowy story, Chirri and Chirra take a bicycle ride during the first snow of the season. They discover an ice door with delicious warm drinks, then an icy passageway to a great hall full of animals doing all sorts of things. They play marbles with frozen flowers until the surprise hot spring is revealed and everyone takes a lovely bath to warm up. Finally, they follow the animals to all sorts of igloos in various sizes. They join a bear family and end the night with wonderful dreams from a big adventure.
Oh, these books are just darling. I wish I had discovered them many years ago when my girls were littler as they would have been fast favorites in our home. They are so charming in their simplicity and pacing. The stories are gentle, but not boring. The adventures are so fantastical and just seem perfectly dreamed up by children wandering and imagining all on their own. They remind me a lot of our beloved Little Bear stories about imagined adventures and animal friends; and also the Japanese Little Bear, Kuma-Kuma Chan with the soft illustrations and simple story structure!
These are such fun reads, and the sizes of them makes them perfect for small hands too as they won’t overwhelm to hold and set on a little lap. The language is also very light and gentle, structured very simply. My girls enjoyed them now, but I definitely think they are perfectly-suited for even younger, 2-5 being a sweet spot in my opinion. I hope you check them out and see what tiny adventures they help dream up.
And if nothing else, they would make excellent bedtime stories, so tuck in your little ones and read these for three books a night!