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Issue 11: J-Book Review

March 22, 2010

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Want to learn kanji, vocab AND read manga? Here’s a dictionary unlike any!
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whitehen I was teaching English (in China to Japanese and Korean kids, go figure huh), one of my Japanese students’s mom introduced me to this book she was using to teach her son idiomatic phrases. I remember how kind she was and would always introduce me to all kinds of Japanese things, whether it was Japanese tea, typical Japanese desserts or even when she was planning a family trip in Japan, she would tell me about the place. And as a『専業主婦 (せんぎょうしゅふ、full-time housewife)』she was always busy with her three kids making their o-bento boxes, scheduling after-school activities and socializing with other housewives. So when she knew I was studying Japanese she showed me this particular『慣用句 (かんようく、idiomatic phrases)』book and even let me borrow it.

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explanation-3aThe book is part of the popular『満点ゲットシリーズちびまる子ちゃん』series and centers around a little girl called『まろ子』and her family. As we follow her to school she learns all kinds of things and that’s also the main point of this educational series. Books in the series teach a variety of different subject such as『敬語 (けいご)』,『ことわざ』,『俳句 (はいく)』and this issue’s book selection topic: kanji.
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explanation-3aChibi Maruko-chan
After returning the book, I searched online and found out that there were many more ちびまる子ちゃん books and I found these kanji dictionaries. Being charmed by the books I decided to order them (actually one of my other student’s mom kindly ordered them for me). ちびまる子ちゃん is very popular in Japan and several manga, video games as well as anime and live action series have been released. The story revolves around まる子ちゃん who is a cheerful (outspoken) Japanese girl growing up and going to school learning things. The charm of the manga is its simple but often wacky style and each character looks unique and even talk in their own special way.

Kanji Dictionary
The book『ちびまる子ちゃんの漢字辞典』has 3 volumes. Volume one is aimed at first and second year primary school kids and holds 240 basic kanji to learn. Volume two is targeted at second to fourth year kids covering 560 kanji and the last volume is for fifth and sixth year students learning another 366 kanji. Why do I love these books? Because it’s loaded with pictures, tons of it! The dictionary (slash manga) is very unique and begins with an introductionary comic then followed by a group of kanji to learn. Each kanji is clearly explained in detail with a cute side picture, meaning, stroke order, readings, kanji radicals, example words AND example sentences provided by まる子ちゃん‘s friends and family. Throughout the book you’ll find kanji quizzes, puzzles, kanji history facts, trivia, furigana and more comics. It’s actually very surprising that there is so much information stuffed in these little books and then some! It’s literally filled to the brim AND fun to read. I LOVE THESE BOOKS!
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explanation-3aEasy in disguise
Don’t let these seemingly easy books fool you though, as these books are targeted at Japanese schoolkids, everything is ofcourse in Japanese, explanation and all. Adding to that, まる子ちゃん & Co often use a lot of kiddie slang (and that’s a language on its own). So a decent knowledge of Japanese is needed in order to fully enjoy the books. I’d recommend the first volume for upper beginners bordering on lower intermediate. Volume 2 and 3 are for intermediates to lower advanced.

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A dictionary is a great book, but when you add pictures, informative lessons, trivia, examples and ちびまる子ちゃん, it becomes an awesome book! Even though it says dictionary, see it more as a manga teaching you kanji. With the amount of info it holds, it’s a great source to learn kanji (not to mention a ton of extra vocab) and the manga (real Japanese manga) style approach takes the boring out of learning. A super recommendation to anybody learning kanji!

Book Info
title: ちびまる子ちゃん漢字辞典 (vol. 1 • 2 • 3)
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pages: vol.1: 224 • vol.2: 232 • vol.3: 256
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dimensions: 18 x 13 cm
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extra: n/a
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language: Japanese
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publisher: 集英社 (kids.shueisha.co.jp)
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order: http://www.amazon.co.jp
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ISBN: vol.1: 4-08-314002-x • vol.2: 4-08-314004-6 • vol.3: 4-08-314043-7
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special Chokochoko rating: 満点 100%

14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2010 2:59 am

    まる子ちゃん~!!!!! Ahhh!!!! I used to have one of these somewhere–but sadly it has been misplaced. I love books like this. I used to buy the kids notebooks for Kanji practice and they’d have little stories in Japanese on the inside. SO useful!

    and I decided to take you up on your idea of Japanese-Korean study. I just need to find me some good books now! haha😉

    • March 23, 2010 8:40 pm

      I know! Japanese book makers know how to make things interesting and fun!
      Got you excited about the idea huh!😛 Im sure youll find awesome books!

  2. March 23, 2010 4:22 pm

    I want that book ^^ すごい^^ thanks for the info ^^ keep up the good work^^

  3. creativityjapanese permalink
    March 25, 2010 5:09 pm

    The contents looked interesting!

    • March 25, 2010 5:36 pm

      They are!!! 但可能对你没有效果啦。你已经是超级班啦。

      • creativityjapanese permalink
        March 26, 2010 2:37 pm

        Please don’t say that… 超级班? There’s a lot of things which I don’t know~Learning a language takes forever~ ^^

  4. April 11, 2010 6:36 am

    I just bought all three of the kanji dictionaries because of this review. I hope it will make my kanji studying a little more interesting over the summer. Accompanied with my よつばと manga and some graded readers, I’m hoping it’ll make learning the kanji, along with the White Rabbit Press flashcards more fun🙂
    Thank you for the review! ありがとうございます!

    • April 11, 2010 7:23 pm

      Woa really? Well it sounds like you’re all kanji set! I heard those よつばと manga is really great, I might check them out too. Happy reading/learning!🙂

  5. April 12, 2010 9:05 pm

    I’ve seen it on JLIST for 12.50USD

    http://www.jlist.com/SEARCH/chibi_maruko

  6. June 24, 2011 9:24 am

    YES! We need more these kind of book reviews. It’s quite sad that all good learning materials that japanese use are quite rare here in western.

    Hmm, JLIST sounds cheap for me. Hopefully postages won’t be that much. Need to buy this when I get all my other books ordered. There is too many books for me to order >_< especially when learning two languages.

  7. March 28, 2014 12:20 am

    Thank you for these suggestions. I’m going to check out these books. I have a friend who is learning Japanese and is looking for more reading material. I wonder if you can buy these on Amazon.jp?

    • Squire Starsquid permalink
      March 28, 2014 11:20 am

      Hi lealena2000! You’re welcome! Yes, you can buy these on Amazon.jp (just need a credit card) or White Rabbit Press also has a good selection.

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