Hiromi's Hands

By School Library Journal

This picture-book biography presents the lives of two sushi chefs: a father and daughter. Readers meet the adolescent Akira Suzuki as he strives to supplement his family’s income by apprenticing in a Tokyo restaurant. They may be amazed by a career that consisted of scrubbing the floor for the first year, cooking rice for the second, and working long days for 10 years to realize a goal. The opportunity to pursue his dream in New York ultimately led to marriage, fatherhood, and the desire to share his heritage. Young Hiromi attended Japanese school on Saturdays and celebrated special days, but she especially wanted to learn her father’s trade. Akira welcomed her interest — ‘Girls can do things here that they cannot do in Japan’ — and the pattern of learning began again. Hiromi’s achievement is celebrated in a spread of labeled, delicately arranged sushi. The story came full circle when the Tokyo restaurateur paid a visit and enjoyed his meal. Ink-and-watercolor scenes are rendered in salmon and grays; each childhood is captured in black-and-white ‘snapshots.’ One odd choice, given the author’s access to her subject, is the pseudo-Japanese in the signage, described as merely illustrative. An author’s note and photograph of Hiromi Suzuki are followed by a pronunciation guide. An inspiring story of a young woman crossing a boundary, an informative glimpse into a career, and a study in perseverance, this title will appeal to a varied audience.