Kimonos – kawaii-cute in a picture book

You can pretend that you’re buying this divine book for your children – introduce them to the ‘art of the kimono’ and all that – or just get it for yourself and relish all that kawaii goodness.

Kimonos, by French author and illustrator Annelore Parot is sumptuous from the very first page (actually, the padded and cloth-paneled front cover is pretty special!). Essentially it’s about traditional Japanese Kokeshis dolls – a neat way of introducing pretty kimonos, different hair-dos and other really cute things like fans, drawing pandas, sashes and ladybugs.

But buy this book for the irresistible sneak-peek flaps, die-cuts, lavish gatefolds and the stunning illustrations. Parot uses a muted colour palette of greys and beige, pale blue and green and adds splashes of red to great effect. The illustrations are both simple and detailed at the same time – for example, the simple doll shape is repeated with each wearing a different, incredibly intricate kimono of richly patterned fabric.

If you really feel the need to justify this book on its educational value, rest assured that it’s packed with the English and Japanese words (and characters) for many everyday (and not so common) things. My favourite is the double-page, die-cut spread devoted to hairstyles. Each Kokeshis doll has a hair style inspired by something different, ranging from a “cloud… kumo!” to a “flower… hana!

Also expect quaint language, particular to these types of super-cute, Japanese-meets-English books – “We all wear short red ties with our uniforms and love to draw pandas!

Kimonos is available at Book Depository for $19.27, with free post to Australia.

Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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