Absolute Beginners Book Club // Currently reading Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea

Hello! I am pretty new, I am on level 3 of wanikani and about to upgrade to premium. I just discovered Cure Dolly (through another forum post here on wanikani). The discription says it is best if you have completed Genki level 1 before starting this book… Is going through Cure Dolly videos equivalent to that? I would like to do this book club, I am really excited to jump into Japanese content but am still a very new newbie. Please Advise! oh gosh… I started reading some of the conversations here in the comments and realized that I am WAAAAY out of my league. :sob: I’ll put my dreams of doing a book club on hold until I am much further along in things.

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At a bare minimum, you’ll probably want to have watched through at least the first 20 or so Cure Dolly videos from her Japanese from Scratch playlist.

We’ll be starting Teasing-Master Takagi-san in a week, and reading the volume will run for two months (through the end of June). That gives you a choice:

  1. Use the next two months to watch one Cure Dolly video per day, so you’ll have watched at least 60 of them before the next book club pick is decided, scheduled, and begins.

  2. Buy a copy of Teasing-Master Takagi-san and read along, knowing in advance that you’ll be struggling the whole time. Reading the related discussion can slowly boost your grammar knowledge alongside using a grammar resource such as Cure Dolly’s series, the Genki textbooks, or Tae Kim’s guide.

The first native material (manga or otherwise) you read will be a massive struggle, whether you’ve started learning grammar already or not. I do recommend getting a basic understanding of grammar in advance. You can watch through the first six Cure Dolly videos in an hour, and even though you probably won’t retrain much from a first pass, that’ll help point you in the right direction.

From there, it’s a matter of how much tolerance you have for looking things up and learning as you go while reading native material, and if that method works for you.

For some people, learning from Genki or Tae Kim works best. For me, that method doesn’t work at all. Looking up grammar as I read a manga, and watching Cure Dolly, were what’s worked for me. (But first going in to manga reading, I did have a very basic understanding of grammar from having taken high school-level Japanese language class way back in the stone age.)

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Thank you for the reply, it was very helpful!!! <3 I am LOVING Cure Dolly’s vids so far and was hesitant to get a textbook like Genki, so it is great to know that someone else has been successful using other methods. The first Cure Dolly video blew my mind so much I immediately ordered her book Alice in Kanji Land and it is so freaking cute!
I ordered a copy of the book in my excitement so I will see how it strikes me after I look at it, but i will probably try and read along. :tada: Thank you again!

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Read along! Who cares your level!! We aren’t being graded (are we?).
I’m new too. I just read the first two pages. Took me forever but the struggle is kind of fun.
Do it!! :slight_smile:
Also thank you for introducing me to cure dolly. Sounds interesting. I’ll check it out.
See you may 1.

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Haha I sure hope we aren’t being graded! :crazy_face: I will probably read along, I can’t wait for my copy to get here! I am glad you checked out Cure Dolly, I found about her in a forum post here about additional resources to use. Once I got past the voice I was hooked. Fingers crossed my book gets here in time. :grin:

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And we’re off!

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So with Takagi-san scheduled to finish week ending 3rd July, we would look to start the next book on 10th July.

It would be good to have some more nominations submitted over the next few weeks.

We would be looking to have a poll to select the following book around the end of May, giving around 6 weeks for people to join up and purchase the book.

I’m not sure that I will have time to read along with that book. I’m happy to set up the poll, but if someone else wants to pick this up they would be welcome.

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There are these books from みなの日本語 called ミラーさん that could be a good option…
image

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もしかしたら名探偵

Summary

Detective Milky Sugiyama investigates various cases around town.

Availability

Physical: Amazon JP,

Digital: Amazon JP, BOOK☆WALKER, Kobo

Personal Opinion

This book is from the same author as にゃんにゃん探偵団, the book that started the Absolute Beginner Book Club, and it should do roughly as well as a pick.

As a children’s picture book, it combines simple language with artwork to tell a story. The book contains three stories, each split into two parts (a case part, and a solution part), giving a clear sense of progression.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Simple language, as it’s a children’s book.
  • Furigana appears on all story kanji.
  • Under 90 pages of text.

Cons

  • General lack of kanji can make looking up words more difficult.
    • This can be offset by ensuring the vocabulary sheet is populated.

Pictures

First Three Pages


Additional Pages



Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

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That looks a straightforward read. This would be different to anything read so far in the ABBC as it’s written for Japanese learners rather than being native material.

That makes it easier than other material we’ve read. You can certainly see the difference in level between this and a children’s book like the one Chris just nominated.

I read the first chapter on ebook Japan and it seemed a little dull?

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I was wondering that myself, if the ミラーさん series would read more like a string of example sentences telling a narrative, or if it weaves a story interesting enough to hold one’s attention.

I’m unable to find much about the series, but this page indicates the first book is a collection of 18 short stories. The Apple Books page weighs it in at 58 pages, so I measure it at about 3-4 pages per story.

I watched a Japanese Youtube review of the book the other day, but I’m not certain if the reviewer ever talked about the content. Of couse, my comprehension of spoken Japanese is really insufficient…

One native Japanese review on the Amazon listing praises the coverage of Japanese society and culture in the book, enjoying seeing it through the eyes of a foreigner (the book’s ミラーさん).

Another reviewer, a Japanese language class teacher, says their students enjoy it as part of their coursework.

Going back to dull versus interesting, there’s also the “my first native material I’m able to read” factor, which makes anything that weaves a narrative more interesting. (More experienced readers hoping to field questions unfortunately don’t get that freebie interest boost, so it stands out more for them if the material doesn’t carry its own weight.)

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I read the book, and it’s a short novel following ミラーさん. They are not independent stories, but chapters

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As mentioned before, it’s not native material. The grammar is around N5-N4.

Was it an interesting read? Did it feel like a series of example sentences from a textbook, or like a good narrative?

Thanks for clarifying my mistake. I must have made a mistake in understanding what was written on the site. It’s not like I’m learning Japanese or anything :wink:

@Micki’s questions mirror my own. Being simple writing geared toward learners makes it perfect for absolute beginner reading material, so the focus thus is on if it’s interesting enough to hold readers. (I mean, aside from the usual huge decline we typically see over the life of reading a book or manga.)

Considering you’ve read it before, I’m more inclined to figure it was interesting enough for you to recommend it!

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Wanted to share some books at this level I’ve found/purchased that other people might find interesting. Not so much nominations because physical only or cost prohibitive so I don’t know if they would really be selected.

  1. 徳間アニメ絵本 Ghibli picture books in particular Spirited Away
    https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/宮崎-駿/dp/4198614067/
    There’s one for every Ghibli movie, some are 2 volumes like Mononoke or Nausicaa. Has beautiful art stills from the movies, furigana for any kanji, spacing and commas so it’s very easy to read.

  2. 心やさしく賢い子に育つ みじかいおはなし366: おはなしプレ
    https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/dp/4092172796
    81mkGkikTVL
    This book has a one page story/science fact/holiday info/biography for every day for a year. Meant for a parent to read to their child but does contain furigana for all kanji.
    You can see a list of all chapter titles here:
    目次:心やさしく賢い子に育つみじかいおはなし366 おはなしプレNEO/小学館 - 紙の本:honto本の通販ストア
    and examples here they posted for free:
    【休校支援!音声付き無料公開】「心やさしく賢い子に育つ みじかいおはなし366」1日1話で子供の好奇心に火をつけよう! | 小学館HugKum
    There’s also an audiobook version on audible so you can listen when reading or practice listening only. It’s expensive but if you have a free trial for audible it does qualify.
    https://www.audible.ca/pd/心やさしく賢い子に育つ みじかいおはなし366-Audiobook/B07XR9ZMCY

  3. 世界を変えた人たち365
    https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/dp/4522431740
    51WiNTDARwL
    Similar style to the book above, but each page has a biography about an influential person or invention. People who enjoyed the 10 minute biography book might enjoy this.
    Chapter titles: 目次:世界を変えた人たち365 生きる力を育てる新時代の伝記/田島 信元 - 紙の本:honto本の通販ストア

  4. 都道府県のおはなし 低学年
    https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/dp/4053044235
    61EUxyLK6fL.SX353_BO1,204,203,200
    Has a short story for every prefecture in Japan and a couple reading comprehension questions for each. The stores are pretty short and simple.
    Chapter titles:
    おはなしドリル『都道府県のおはなし 低学年』 | 学研出版サイト

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Thanks for sharing these ideas @Pikkiri! I didn’t find ebook versions of any of these unfortunately but we have read books that exist in hardcopy only in the past (Yotsuba being the most famous one!).

I think this one is worth adding to the nomination list. I could put this together in the nomination format. Here is the listings of the contents page, with a translation from Deepl:

Summary

日本地図/都道府県って,なに?/北海道 野生のどうぶつに出会える/青森県 にぎやかな,ねぶたまつり/岩手県 ぎざぎざの,リアス海岸/宮城県 おいしいお米にひとめぼれ/秋田県 なまはげは,こわい?/山形県 大すき,さくらんぼ/福島県 五色ぬまのひみつ/茨城県 なっとうで,元気/栃木県 日光のおさるさん/群馬県 こんにゃくで,おなかすっきり/埼玉県 人気のおやつ,草加せんべい/千葉県 日本の空のげんかん/東京都 東京タワーと,東京スカイツリー/神奈川県 みなと町,横浜/新潟県 てんねんきねんぶつの,とき/富山県 「しんきろう」って,なに?/石川県 にぎやかな,朝市/福井県 冬のごちそう,えちぜんがに/山梨県 なしではなく,ぶどう/長野県 夏でもすずしい気こう/岐阜県 がっしょうづくりの家/静岡県 八十八夜の茶つみ/愛知県 金のしゃちほこと,三えいけつ/三重県 しんじゅのひみつ/滋賀県 信楽のたぬき/京都府 千年のみやこ/大阪府 おわらいと,たこやき/兵庫県 サイダーのたん生/奈良県 大仏さまと,しか/和歌山県 うめ~,うめ/鳥取県 さきゅうって,なに?/島根県 宍道湖のしじみ/岡山県 ももたろうと,きびだんご/広島県 安芸の宮島/山口県 秋吉台と,秋芳洞/徳島県 あわおどりって,なに?/香川県 おいしい,さぬきうどん/愛媛県 みかん王国/高知県 かつおの一本づり/福岡県 学問のかみさま/佐賀県 有明海ののりと,むつごろう/長崎県 カステラのひみつ/熊本県 「い草」って,なに?/大分県 おんせんが,いっぱい!/宮崎県 南国のマンゴー/鹿児島県 おやつにも,さつまいも/沖縄県 うつくしい海と,シーサー

Map of Japan / What are prefectures? Hokkaido: Where you can meet wild animals / Aomori: The lively Nebuta Festival / Iwate: The jagged rias coast / Miyagi: Delicious rice and Hitomebore / Akita: Are Namahage scary? Yamagata: Cherries, a favorite / Fukushima: The secret of Goshiki-numa / Ibaraki: Natto, a healthy food / Tochigi: Monkeys in Nikko / Gunma: Konjac, a refreshing snack / Saitama: Soka senbei, a popular snack / Chiba: Japan’s sky landmarks / Tokyo: Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Sky Tree / Kanagawa: Minato-machi, Yokohama Niigata Prefecture: The time of the natural age / Toyama Prefecture: What is a Shinkiro? A lively morning market / Ishikawa / Fukui Prefecture Echizen crab, a winter treat / Yamanashi Prefecture Grapes, not pears / Nagano Prefecture Cool summer air / Gifu Prefecture Gashouzukuri no ie / Shizuoka Prefecture Eighty-eight nights of tea gathering / Aichi Prefecture Golden shachihoko and three heroes / Mie Prefecture Shinju no hihitsu / Shiga Prefecture Shigaraki tanuki / Kyoto Prefecture A thousand years of Owarai and Takoyaki (octopus dumplings) / Hyogo / Nara / The Great Buddha and the Deer / Wakayama / Ume, Ume / Tottori / What is Sakyu? Shimane: Shijimi clams from Lake Shinji / Okayama: Momotaro and kibidango / Hiroshima: Aki-no-Miyajima / Yamaguchi: Akiyoshidai and Akiyoshido Cave / Tokushima: What’s awaodori? Kagawa Prefecture: Delicious Sanuki Udon / Ehime Prefecture: The Kingdom of Mandarin Oranges / Kochi Prefecture: Katsuo no Ippon Zuri / Fukuoka Prefecture: Study Goddess / Saga Prefecture: Ariake Sea Nori and Mutugoro / Nagasaki Prefecture: Secrets of Castella / Kumamoto Prefecture: What is Igusa? Oita Prefecture: A lot of onsen! Miyazaki Prefecture: Tropical mangoes / Kagoshima Prefecture: Sweet potatoes for snacks / Okinawa Prefecture: The beautiful sea and Shisa (sea squirts)

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Here is a picture of the inside of the book that was shared on Amazon. Do you own the book? Would you be able to share pictures of one or two more pages?

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Summary:
Hanato Kobato is on a mission: she has a wish she wants granted. To do this, she has to mend the wounded hearts of the people she meets on her journey and fill up a magical bottle with the suffering she has relieved. The only catch is, she can’t fall in love with any of the people she helps. It seems like that’s the least of her problems, though; Kobato has no clue how to mend hearts . . . especially since each person’s heart is different. So what’s Kobato to do? Well, she has Ioryogi-san, a cute blue dog with a seriously bad attitude, to help (read: nag and critique) her . . . Yikes! Looks like the road to getting her one wish is going to be a long and hard one. Will Kobato get her wish in the end? And just what is it that Kobato wants? - From Amazon
A very cute slice of life with a few magical elements. There are 10 chapters within the first volume.

Pros:
All kanji within text bubbles have furigana next to them, about the same size as the current book in club.

In the first volume, the chapters do not need to be read in order to make sense.

Kobato is a very easy character to understand throughout the book.

There is a chapter that focuses on Japanese Christmas and another on Japanese New Year’s, I found it a very interesting read.

The entire manga is only 6 volumes long if individuals would like to continue to read it.

Cons:
The character Ioryogi-san has some long speech bubbles.

The story starts to pick up at the end of Volume 1.

Kanji without Furigana appear on some signs and remarks outside of speech bubbles.

There is a misunderstanding at one point where Spoiler

a character misunderstands Kobato for a woman of the night and Kobato has no understanding what they mean. Two characters save her quickly from the situation and nothing actually occurs besides a hand grab and the creep getting punched. A character briefly explains later what the person’s intentions where and Kobato is rightfully horrified. Everything is kept very PG.

Link to buy physical or Digital: https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/CLAMP-ebook/dp/B0093G5XX6/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=こばと&qid=1620507448&s=books&sr=1-2

A few sample pages


Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

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Pro for Kobato: Short series for those who’d want to read the whole thing in an offshoot club (six volumes).

Con for Kobato: Occasionally one character giving a long backstory info dump to another character who already knows it, for the sake of informing the reader. (I don’t think it happened until the latter half of the series, though, so volume one should be safe. It’s been forever since I read this series in English to remember for certain.)

It’s been long enough that I’m wondering if I even still have it, or if I culled it to make room for other things…