A Carp for Kimiko book cover image

A Carp for Kimiko

  • 795

By: Virginia Kroll / Illustrated by: Katherine Roundtree

A young girl's struggle against the strong current of tradition.

Every year on Children's Day in Japan a kite in the shape of a carp is flown for each boy in the family. Kimiko is a little girl who desperately wants an orange, black, and white calico carp kite of her own to fly on this holiday.

Kimiko's parents remind her that there is a holiday just for girls–Doll's Festival Day but this does not stop Kimiko from dreaming about and wishing for her very own carp. The magical ending achieves the impossible–Kimiko gets what she longs for without breaking tradition. Katherine Roundtree's beautiful illustrations evoke the wonder and excitement of childhood, which will charm readers of all cultures.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Virginia Kroll, author

Virginia Kroll attended Canisius College and the State University of New York at Buffalo. She was formerly an elementary school teacher and has raised six children of her own. It was Virginia's love of children that led her to begin her career as a children's writer in 1984.

Read more about Virginia.

Katherine Roundtree, illustrator

Katherine Roundtree graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design Katherine is an elementary school art teacher. She lived for many years with her extended family on the banks of the Ohio river, but currently resides in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Read more about Katherine.

Editorial Reviews:


Kimiko very much wants a calico carp kite like her brother's to fly on Children's Day. She can't have one, though, because she's a girl, and Japanese tradition dictates that only boys get colorful kites. Luckily, Kimiko has understanding parents, and the day after the festival, she wakes to find a real calico carp swimming in a tank in her room. The intention of this title, stated on the jacket blurb, is to introduce readers to Japanese customs and traditions, such as the Children's Day and Doll's Day celebrations mentioned in the story. With brightly colored paintings and a believable premise, the story succeeds, relaying its information with a minimum of didacticism and more than a little charm.

Kirkus Reviews

Kimiko yearns for a carp-shaped kite to fly on Children's Day, like the one little brother Yukio has, but it's not the Japanese tradition: kites are for boys. When she tries, politely, to negotiate, her parents are firm—but not unsympathetic, especially Mama. It's true, as Kimiko says, that Yukio shared in the Doll Festival by coming to Kimiko's party; Mama, sighing, says, "You remind me of the carp, Kimiko, always wanting to swim against the current," but agrees to "bend" tradition: she may unpack one of the dolls reserved for that festival. Better, once Children's Day is over, Kimiko gets a special gift: a live carp in an aquarium. Roundtree's illustrations are stolidly literal, her bright colors almost garish—an unfortunate choice for a gentle story distinguished by unusual warmth and subtlety. An upbeat but still bracing look at a culture in which children learn to accept tradition—and, like all children, to bargain within the constraints they're given.

School Library Journal

A straightforward story that focuses on a Japanese holiday. On the fifth day of the fifth month, Children's Day is celebrated, formerly called Boy's Day. Families fly a carp windsock for each son, and Kimiko longs to have one fly in her honor along with the three for her brothers. Her mother makes the obvious comparison-her daughter is like a carp struggling against the current. Traditional ways prevail, and a colorful windsock does not fly for Kimiko. But, the morning after the holiday, she is delighted to find a live calico carp in a fishbowl by her bed. The bright, realistic illustrations are filled with the details of Japanese life, including a corner rock garden, shoe rack, and table setting. In one overzealous attempt to provide information, the author gives the Japanese words for various family members in a phonetic manner instead of in the accepted method of transcription. This will prove confusing to anyone with some knowledge of Japanese.


ISBN: 978-0-88106-411-7

Ages: 4-7
Page count: 32
10 x 8

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