ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん 🌳 Week 1 (The Wolf of the Small Forest Book Club)

Or you make do with this free source I’ve picked up here somewhere along the way:


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Even from the small amount of reading I’ve done, I can start to feel a mental model of grammar patterns developing. Specifically, I feel like I’m getting a sense for topics/comments (i.e. は, も) Personally I’m finding reading to be really helpful in this regard. I’m sure some more advanced folks can speak to this, but I’m starting to see the baseline.

Edit: AND IT’S A DELIGHTFUL FEELING! It’s a struggle, but the payoff so far has had glints of awesomeness!


This is excellent. Thank you!

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Ah, yes I used that for the first part, but excited about the paper version

Figured it was only 8 pages this week so I might as well just knock them out, and…

Holy crap this is adorable

Minor spoilers, p.6

Very scary indeed :joy:

EDIT: whelp, so much for self-control… I’m 2 weeks ahead now :rofl:

reply to "minor spoilers, p.6"

My favourite panel so far ngl

Some words on は and が (featuring a few pages from this week)

One area many Japanese learners get confused is differentiating between は and が.

Actually, the two are very different. They serve different roles in a sentence. Once you have a good grasp on those roles, it becomes easier to work with them.

は marks a topic. が marks a subject.

First, what is a subject?

In a verb sentence, the subject is the noun that performs the action.

Consider these English sentences:

  • John read a book.
  • My cat is sleeping.
  • The water froze into a block of ice.

The bold words are the subject of each sentence.

Next, what is a topic?

Also called the theme in English, the topic is the broader theme or focus of the sentence. I like to think of it as the context in which the sentence exists.

Consider you overhear someone say the following sentence:

  • “The tigers beat the bears.”

The subject is “tigers”, as they are performing the action of beating the bears.

But what is the topic?

Is the topic the result of a sports game played between the Tigers and the Bears?

Is the topic the result of the zoo’s poll asking visitors their favorite animal?

Is the topic the outcome of an unfortunate occurrence at a furries convention?

In many cases, the topic and the subject are the same thing, or close enough to the same that it would be redundant to state both the topic and the subject.

  • Question: “What is your favorite pet?”
  • Answer: “Regarding my favorite pet, my favorite pet is an eagle.”

Since the topic is known from the question, the answer in English would leave the topic out:

  • Question: “What is your favorite pet?”
  • Answer: “My favorite pet is an eagle.”

In casual conversation in English, you may even leave the subject out when it’s clear from the context:

  • Question: “What is your favorite pet?”
  • Answer: “An eagle.”

Most English sentences include a subject, even if you can infer it from context.

Most English sentences do not include a topic, as it can usually be inferred from context.

This makes English a subject-prominent language.

Japanese is a topic-prominent language.

When there is a change in topic, は (or も) will show up to signal that change. (There are exceptions to every rule.)

If the topic and subject are the same in Japanese, there is no reason to state the subject.

If the topic and subject are different, but the subject is obvious from context, there is no reason to state the subject.

Everything after the topic-marking は is a comment about that topic.

Let’s see how this looks in this week’s reading. I’ll skip the opening color pages and jump right in to page 5.


After some backstory, Wolf-chan shifts the topic to “now”.


Next, the topic has changed to “in the forest”.

The statement of Wolf-chan’s enjoyable every day lacks a topic because it hasn’t changed. We’re still on the topic of “in the forest” where every day is being lived enjoyably.

Page 6 starts off with two statements:

Each statement is a comment on a different topic, so the topic is stated.

There is also a subject, お仕事(しごと), as without stating the subject, it would be impossible to know what ある (あって) is saying exists.

The final subject, それ, is a substitute for the thing that was just talked about, Wolf-chan’s job.

This panel doesn’t include a topic. That’s because the topic is unchanged. The topic is still Wolf-chan’s job.

The topic then switches over to Wolf-chan (rather than her job).

We also have a subject here, as everyone receiving a fright. The person giving the fight is left out because it happens to be the same as the topic. It would be redundant to include a (わたし)に after opening with (わたし)は.


The panel ends with (わたし) still the topic, unstated, as it’s clear this comment is about Wolf-chan.

Not every sentence will have a topic if it’s clear from the context, such as having been stated in a prior sentence.

There are also cases where a topic may change without being stated due to being clear from the context.

When we go into week two, keep an eye out for when は (or も) is marking the topic that the sentence is commenting on.

Keep an eye out also for when が shows up to mark the subject that is either doing a verb, being defined as a noun, or being described with an adjective.


Finally got some time to come back and reread this week’s pages. I was blown away by how easy it got o_o I read it out loud, translated to the best of my abilities then looked up your translations and explanations. Most of it I got right myself and things I didn’t I understood through others. Wow…

Guess I’ll go ahead and try to read the next week’s material for now.


I just read your wonderful explanation before working on my Genki exercises. It really helped me out on what to look out for when reading, and be more aware of the fact that all my thinking is trained in a subject oriented way, whereas the topic played a subtler role.

Maybe Genki will explain some more when they introduce が, but for now I see myself struggling with the exercise of suggesting stuff to friends.

“Would you like to read books at the library?”

This one I can riddle quite easily for myself, because reading is done to the book and I can put the remaining noun - library - as the topic. It’s enough for doing the exercise.


How do I, as the speaker/author, decide what the topic is? The exercise wants me to talk about the time or the location in order to streamline the dialog towards that pattern of speech they want to pound into my skull, no objection, but wouldn’t it feel more natural to pick “reading” or “studying” together as the topic? Or is this natural feeling just my preconditioned brain focusing on the subject?

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By far the most useful は and が breakdown I’ve ever seen, and it’s so effective with these panels as you’ve laid it out. Thank you @ChristopherFritz


My copy arrived early today! I can recommend Manga Republic. They included a cute letter welcoming me as a customer and included some free plastic manga covers as a gift :slight_smile:

I read ahead a few pages and I must say, it feels amazing to see grammar/vocab that I’ve recently learned and recognize without having to look up. That’s the kind of small reinforcement that keeps me going!


You are an absolute god send. Seriously. I literally spent several hours on this one sentence alone trying to figure out why I couldn’t translate it. I kept reading あいだ as “interval of time”. You can imagine my confusion at trying to understand what the “people’s [interval of time]” was.

I’ve already spent two days working through just this first page. Getting hung up for so long and on so many tiny things like that is incredibly demoralizing.

This is my first attempt at the book club and I’m already so far behind!


Thank you, you are most welcome! :smiley:

Don’t worry about being behind just yet! By my counting today is the first day of the second week, and the beginning has the hardest nuts to crack. It gets easier from here on, so stick around! :wink:

Even so, it’s okay to be behind, but watch out for this frustration! This isn’t a race!! If you have questions for week 1 content when the schedule moved on, please ask your questions right here or check if they have already been discussed (as you did already, obviously). My point is that we won’t leave you hanging, even if the ABBC has moved ahead of you! There will be specific threads for each week accordingly. :slight_smile:

So please take your time, don’t push yourself too hard, and stay motivated! :fox_face:

Page 5

Why is the form なって used instead of なった?
Shouldn’t the verb be in the past/completion form?
I am very weak with conjugations so feel free to dumb down the explanation in detail.

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It’s the continuative form. It joins this and the next sentence together.
“I’ve been separated from both my parents, and…
now I’m alone, but…”

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Thanks! I assumed Japanese would have a different style between writing and talking the way English does. That would be considered a weird run-on sentence in English. As if they were just writing it down as they talked.
Is this normal? Or is it because it’s targeting a young audience? I’m not used to sentences continuing across multiple panels. In English there would be an ellipses “…” to indicate that’s occurring.


This is basically Ookami-chan telling us what’s going on, this wouldn’t be odd in speech, and it does happen quite a bit. Japanese also has ellipses btw, but they mostly have a different role of either showing that part of a sentence is getting completely dropped, or it has a sort of “I’m not sure I want to continue this sentence” kind of feel.
An example of the first one would be the usual “ちょっと…”, As in “It’s a little (uncomfortable/weird/dangerous/whatever)”.
For the second one, you might hear something like “怪我けががないけど… 大丈夫だいじょうぶ?” “You didn’t get hurt, but… Are you alright?”, Where the speaker might be worried that they annoy the other party or something

There’s also a third kind, where they actually appear at the front of the next speech bubble, to make you think that the sentence ended, but then they add something to it. This though exists in English as well in the form of
“Everything turned out great”
“…but the next day made sure we wouldn’t forget it for a long time”

I have very ominous examples fsr


One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t use は to introduce new information. In this regard, は and が are somewhat similar to English “a”* and “the” - if you said to your friend “Should we do the studying in the library?” when you hadn’t previously discussed any studying, their response would likely be “What studying?”, whereas if you’d said “should we do some* studying in the library?” they’d understand that you weren’t referencing any previous plans. the same is true for whether you said 「勉強は図書館で一緒にしませんか。」or「図書館では一緒に勉強しませんか。」

I can’t stress enough though that this comparison between は/が and the/a is only accurate in this specific context of new information vs already known information - in terms of what they actually do in the sentence the two pairs are quite different. also は/が differs from the/a in that while you can’t use は to introduce new information you can use が to discuss previously introduced information, for example if wanted to inform your coparent that the baby you share is sleeping you couldn’t say “a baby is sleeping” but you could say「赤ちゃんが寝てる」(though「赤ちゃんは寝てる」would probably be more natural).

this is my first comment here so sorry if my explanation is unclear and sorry if the formatting gets messed up

*“a” is what’s known as the indefinite article, of which English actually has two: “a”/“an” and “some”.[1]
Sorry if that’s confusing, here’s an example that translates better between English and Japanese:

「今日青い猫は見た!」/ “I saw the blue cat today!” - this implies that the listener already knows about the blue cat. perhaps yesterday they saw it and told you that…

「今日青い猫が見た!」/ “I saw a blue cat today!” - in English this implies that the listener doesn’t already know about the blue cat, in Japanese it doesn’t imply anything either way

  1. This may not be entirely accurate from a linguistics perspective - I believe “some” is generally considered to be a determiner - however for our purposes it’s easiest to think of it as an indefinite article ↩︎

Over time, you get used to seeing て and punctuation appear in various ways.


Page 7

Two questions here:

  1. Why is the reading different for the kanji? WK doesn’t list こ as a possible reading for it. Is that a shortcoming of WK? Or is there something I don’t know about where kanji change their readings if the statement is negative?
  2. What’s with the small あ at the end? Is that a formal thing? Or like some onomatopoeia-type thing? I don’t think I’ve seen あ used like that before.
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