Summary: Gr. 1-4. This small, square picture book pays tribute to one of the world's lesser-known animal heroes: Hachiko, a dog who kept vigil for nearly 10 years at a Tokyo train station, waiting for his deceased master to return from work. Turner unfolds this poignant true story in the natural, unaffected voice of Kentaro, a fictional little boy, who wonders at the dog's unswerving devotion. Unobtrusive details evoke a sense of place ("Ladies in kimonos walked carefully, trying to keep their white tabi socks away from the grime of the streets"), as does Nascimbene's spare line-and-watercolor artwork, reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints. American children will find the scenes of kimono-clad women bustling alongside men in Western suits especially intriguing. Though Hachiko's eventual death may be upsetting to some (he dies at the station, "still waiting for Mr. Ueno"), the sad news is leavened by an ending that emphasizes his status as a furry folk hero in Tokyo, further elaborated in an afterword. This will resonate with any child who has loved a dog and been loved in return; for reading aloud to groups of older kids, pair the story with The Mightiest Heart (2003), a Welsh legend about another selfless hound. Jennifer Mattson Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Classroom Implications: A true story taking place in the early 1900's in Japan, students will relate with the resounding message of trust, faithfulness and heroic animals found in this story! It is another nonfiction picture book that captures the warm-hearted animals at their most loyal.
Here is a link to a chapter book about Hachiko that older kids may be inspired to read after they read this picture book. The book is called, Hachiko Waits by Leslie Newman.