The Asian Reporter 19th Annual
Scholarship & Awards Banquet -
The Asian Reporter's
From The Asian Reporter, V14, #22 (May 25, 2004), page 13.
Ghosts for Breakfast
By Stanley Todd Terasaki
Illustrated by Shelly Shinjo
Lee and Low Books, 2002
Hardcover, 29 pages, $16.95
By Josephine Bridges
Winner of Lee and Low’s New Voices Honor Award, Ghosts for Breakfast is a little scary and a lot of fun. It all begins when the Troublesome Triplets, Mr. Omi, Mr. Omaye, and Mr. Ono, insist they have seen not just one ghost, but dozens, a whole field of them.
"Oh me," said Mr. Omi.
"Oh my," said Mr. Omaye.
"Oh no," said Mr. Ono as the three of them huddled together trembling.
The narrator’s father, whose aid the Triplets enlist, is skeptical. "Very well," he tells them. "I will go to see these ghosts of yours. And just to show you there is nothing to be afraid of, I will take my son with me."
The narrator doesn’t think this is such a good idea. Wind and fog, "thick as bean paste soup," create a creepy atmosphere as the father and son walk through the dark to investigate Farmer Tanaka’s field. The narrator loses his nerve and runs away when he sees what he believes are ghosts, but returns when he thinks he hears his Papa screaming. "Wait. This sounded different. It wasn’t a scream at all. No, it sounded more like a laugh. Papa was laughing?"
Stanley Todd Terasaki based this quirky and delightful story on his mother’s great-great- grandfather’s experience. In an illuminating author’s note, Terasaki explains that his father grew up on Japanese truck farms in southern California, and that his mother worked at a produce stand where Long Beach farmers sold their vegetables.
Shelly Shinjo’s illustrations of a Japanese farming community in the 1920s are luscious. Her depiction of the contrast between the warm, bright indoors and the dark, eerie night outside is dazzling, and her ghosts are just the stuff of an active imagination.
Children age five to nine will love Ghosts for Breakfast. And while it’s a funny book, it may also be a comfort to boys and girls struggling with fear.