by Kimiko Kajikawa

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Tsunami (click here to listen to an excerpt from the book)
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Vibrant cut-to-paper collage. The flames are put together in a way that seems like they are jumping out and expresses a dangerous situation. The placement of Ojiisan creates a feeling of protection and control for the reader.

Theme: Character

Ojiisan is a character who encompasses responsibility, caring, respect, and trustworthiness. Students can find examples of these traits throughout the story. They can also make connections between what Ojiisan exemplifies and what they see in the role models in their lives. It is important to have students realize that Ojiisan is based on a real person in history, meaning that real people can lead others to do great things.

"Tsunami" is a Culturally Relevant and Authentic Selection

1. Demonstrates unique language and style
  • words such as nobori for banners and taimatsu for torch

2. Has an appealing format and is of endearing quality
  • illustrations portray depth and
  • story is logical
  • expresses the good character traits of a person and leader
  • endearing in the way it represents a sacrifice made to save people's lives

3. Portrays cultural accuracy and authenticity
  • The character of Ojiisan is based on a real person, Hamaguchi Goryou, who guided his villagers to safety by lighting rice-straw fires.

Classroom Teaching Application

Grade 2
Key Ideas and Details
ELA. RL.2.2; Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

Objective: Students will explain the central message of the story using events and example from the text.

  • Model the think-aloud process of finding the central message
  • Students practice this skill with elbow partners and small group. Students are forming opinions, making decisions, and critically thinking.
  • Students can compare and contrast qualities of Ojiisan with role models in their own lives
  • Students can report on someone they think is a hero

This story can be used in a variety of subjects:

  • Geography: students identify where different tsunamis have taken place on a world map
  • History: Create a timeline of major tsunamis in history
  • Science: Investigate how a tsunami occurs
  • Writing: Create an original piece of writing
  • Art: Present information about the illustrator. Have students create works of art based on the media that Ed Young used
Kajikawa, Kimiko. (2009). Tsunami.

Thank you, Adrienne Besler