Sumo Joe by Mia Wenjen

Sumo Joe written by Mia Wenjen and illustrated by Nat Iwata is a new rhyming picture book that will introduce young readers to two forms of Japanese martial arts.

On Saturday morning, big brother Joe and his little sister Jo have breakfast together. When his sister leaves for akido practice, Joe’s friends arrive to practice sumo! The boys use pillows to build a makeshift dohyo, or wrestling ring, and practice teppo drills. When Jo returns home, she wants to join in the fun and challenges her brother to a sumo match. Joe’s friends balk at the idea, but Joe’s accepts his little sister’s challenge and the two engage in a friendly duel.

Sumo Joe is a fun, good natured story and an excellent introduction to Japanese martial arts. Japanese terms explaining various aspects of sumo are seamlessly blended into the text. A glossary and author’s note delve a bit further into cultural significance of both sumo and akido.

I highly recommend Sumo Joe for anyone looking for positive depictions of brother-sister relationships. This book would also make a great addition to a classroom unit on Japanese culture. I recommend Sumo Joe for ages 3-6.

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