September Xpress Review of The Birth of Kitaro

“September Xpress Review of The Birth of Kitaro” / New York Public Library / Andrea Lipinski / October 1, 2016

Gr 7 Up

Originally published in magazines between 1966 and 1968, these humorous and spooky entries introduce readers to one of the most famous characters in Japan. The book focuses on the character of Kitaro but includes lots of different yokai (monsters and other mysterious beings), which make these stories exciting and surreal. In Kitaro’s origin story, readers learn that he is the last member of the Ghost Tribe, he was born from his mother’s grave, his late father’s eyeball follows and protects him, and he can use his own hair as a weapon. The other selections present different human and yokai characters and expand Kitaro’s story as he helps to fight the evil creatures with powers of his own. The illustrations range from cute and cartoony to finely detailed, and they add to the action and energy. Readers will see why Kitaro has been a popular character for decades in Japan and will want to read more volumes to discover the rest of his adventures. The book concludes with a history of Kitaro, an overview of yokai, and several puzzles featuring the characters.

VERDICT For fans of manga, monsters, and extremely weird stories.

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