Guri and Gura
Author: Rieko Nakagawa
Illustrator: Yuriko Yamawaki (Yuriko Ōmura)
Specifications: ISBN  978-4834000825
28 pages
26.0 x 18.8 cm / 10.4 x 7.5 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Ages: 3+
Publisher: Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers, Inc.
Tokyo, 1967
Translations: English
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Country Languages Publisher Title ISBN Translator Affiliate Link
United States English Tuttle Publishing Guri and Gura 978-0804833523
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With over four million copies in print, this is one of Japan's best-loved picture books. The field mice Guri and Gura like to cook. One day, when they're out looking for food in the forest, they find an egg that's almost too big for the two of them to haul home together. Deciding that they'd like to bake a great big sponge cake with it, they also bring home a pan and mixing bowl, sugar, milk, and flour. The sweet aroma of the cake in the oven wafts through the forest, attracting their animal friends. Once the cake is done, they all share in eating it. The sense of plenitude this evokes sets the tone for the story, filling young readers with a feeling of contentment that is heightened by the pleasurable cadences of the simple, rhythmical language of the narrative.

The story first appeared in the magazine Kodomo no tomo (Children's Friend) in 1963, and it retains its appeal some 50 years later. Its success with small children no doubt owes something to an overall tranquil mood that sets young minds at ease, as well as to the anticipation they enjoy while waiting for the cake to be done.

An entire series of books centering on the two field mice has followed, including Guri and Gura's Surprise Visitor, Guri and Gura's Seaside Adventure, Guri and Gura's Picnic Adventure, Guri and Gura's Magical Friend, Guri and Gura's Playtime Book of Seasons, Guri and Gura's Special Gift (all tr. 2003), Guri and Gura's Spring Cleaning, and Guri and Gura's Songs of the Seasons (tr. 2004). The series also includes some educational titles that introduce numbers and letters or words. For the series as a whole, the total number of copies in print exceeds 15 million.