I have two books today, actually. The book that the librarians chose is the second book in a series, so I also borrowed and read the first book in that series.
On the left, the first book: “Tomodochi Ya” (“Friend Shop”)
On the right, the second book: “Tomodachi Kuru Kana” (A Friend is Coming…Maybe”)
Sample pages of each book
The plot of the first book involves a fox who is searching for friends, but wants them to pay for that friendship with money. He learns that real friendship isn’t paid for.
The plot of the second book involves a wolf who is waiting for his friend to come on his birthday. His friend does not come. The next day his friend comes, and we learn that the wolf made a mistake of the date of his own birthday.
I found these books rather difficult. Why?
1.) All the words are all in hiragana. No kanji is used. That means when I look at something like “Tomodochi Ya” I think, “What the heck does Ya mean?” If it were in kanji, it would be obvious: ともだち屋. Usually when I see this word shop in words like Bookshop 本屋 (honya) or Barbershop 床屋さん (tokoyasan), it will be in kanji. So it throws me to see it in hiragana.
2.) There is a lot of dialect type words in these books. The animals don’t use proper Japanese. They will say things like “Tsumaran” instead of the proper “Tsumaranai.” (Bored) I don’t need to know these types of words for my test, but I need to know them for LIFE. It’s like “gonna” versus “going to”. Every native English speaker knows “Gonna” but it’s not something that is formally taught. We just pick it up through living the lanaguage.
Probably the most difficult thing about these dialect-y type words is that they are not in dictionaries. So if you can’t figure out the meaning on your own, then you need a native speaker to help you.