my neighbor totoro - the novel!

June 26, 2016

 I am so so so excited to show this book to you guys! Some of you might know that I have kind of wee obsession with the movie 'My Neighbor Totoro', which I think is in the top 5 movies for kids ever made. Maybe even in the top 3. It's the best the best the best and if you have a kid between the ages of 5 and 10, and they haven't seen it? JUSTGOBUYIT. As in, you need to own it.

The basic gist of the story follows two sisters who have relocated to the countryside with their professor father, while their mother recuperates in a convalescent hospital (it's unclear what she has, maybe tuberculosis or some kind of lung infection? she recovers so don't get stressed.)

Anyway, in their rural new home, the girls make friends with some forest spirits who live nearby and only can be seen by children - there are tiny pixie-ish creatures called soot sprites, there are little rabbit-y looking creatures and there is a very LARGE creature called Totoro (which means forest spirit), as well as a magical living cat bus. These creatures befriend the girls as they process their new surroundings and their sadness over living apart from their mama while she's ill.

The movie is magical. Just flipping magical, and so sweet, and the sister relationship between 11 year old Satsuki and her little sister Mei is charming and feisty and lovingly detailed in the film. And now that I've raved (again) about the movie, let's talk about why anyone would need the 'My Neighbor Totoro' book.

The book was published to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film, and the ART - there are new original pictures for the story that were created by director/artist Hayao Miyazaki himself, specifically made for this book and found nowhere else. The illustrations perfectly fit into what you might recall from the film, but have a beautifully sage green, sketch-like quality - they're like gorgeous storyboard artworks, kind of like you would imagine Miyazaki drawing as he was fleshing out his concept art for the movie.

There's also a map in the front of the book, showing the landscape and special locations that are relevant to the storyline. I LOVE MAPS IN BOOKS.

And what I really super particularly love is the writing itself doesn't just ape the movie, like so many 'junior novelizations' of movies do, when they appear in book form. The book takes the movie and dives waaaaaaaay deeper - you get a lot more detail and plot and intricacy - there are letters from the girls to and from their mama that really flesh out their relationship.

There are descriptions of the girls' thoughts and of their actions that you don't get in the movie, which is gorgeous in its simplicity and in what it doesn't say. But in the book you get MORE. You get more plot, more story, more words describing the forest landscape - you just get MORE. If you were at all longing for more depth to the story than what you got in the movie, trust me, it's all here in the book.

You even get little lists of Satsuki's to-do lists! Darling. It's amazing how much more story is present in the book, than in the movie. TONS more dialogue as well.

 If you are a Totoro fan, you absolutely must have this in your life. It's a lovely hardcover, and so well done - the cover has a cloth-like textured quality to it - it would make for an amazing gift and if sounds weird and hokey to say that it's just as magical as the movie is, well then let me be weird.

Oh and a few weeks ago, the last of my peonies started falling off on to my table and I was so sad to see them go, and then I realized how nicely they would serve as a backdrop for the book, (because I only think in terms of what would make for good backdrops for my books????) so they got to serve one more beautiful purpose, after keeping us stocked in peony bouquets for a good solid month.

So let's sum up - friends who have not seen 'Totoro' the movie - OMG go right now. And friends who have seen it - let's revel in how amazing it is. SO AMAZING. And exhale. And all friends together - this book is fabulous, whether you've seen the movie or not. (it would be great as a read-aloud for 6-8 year olds and great for independent reading for 7-10 year olds) Everything about 'Totoro' in any shape or form is just a win-win-win.

Update : Ok I have lost my mind and now officially lost track of what I've done posts on - I already did a post on this book 2 years ago and TOTALLY FORGOT - here it is - with different pictures that I've shown here so I guess it's all good and the subject bears repeating, but seriously - I need to keep a master list oh my word.




21 comments:

  1. Melissa,

    This is so great because Lulu and I have just started reading chapter books at night. We're actually re-reading one right now because we're fresh out of them! Ordering today.

    xox

    Allison
    sunshineinthekitchen.com

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    1. Oh I'm so glad!!!! Has she seen the movie? It was Julia's favorite movie at Lulu's age!!

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  2. I am so excited to learn about this book! We have been Totoro fans for years and I'm ordering this today.
    I actually have a small Totoro pinterest page and am adding My Neigbor Totoro.

    https://www.pinterest.com/clairenoland/totoro/
    https://www.pinterest.com/clairenoland/totoro/

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    1. FUN!!!! I can't wait to check out your boards!!!!

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  3. I want to ride a Catbus.

    It was so cool seeing this on the big screen last month.

    We do need this book.

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    1. ON THE BIG SCREEN. Oh my word. #goals #bucketlist

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  4. STOP IT. JUST STOP IT. I am BEYOND jumping up and down right now. "My Neighbor Totoro" is hands down my favorite kids movie of all time--in fact, I love it so much that I haven't even let my five and eight year old SEE it yet because I'm afraid that they won't like it every bit as much as I do (because this is WHAT HAPPENS in parenthood). OK, I'm throwing caution to the wind and we are watching it on a rainy day this summer! AND NOW WE ARE ALSO BUYING THIS BOOK. I had not even heard about the book, so thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. Squeeeeeaaaaaalllllll!

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    1. HA HA HA HA!!!! Oh i love your excitement so much I see you and raise you some excitement levels, ha ha!

      Ok so you need to sit down with those kiddos RIGHT NOW and what that movie with them! They are the PERFECT age!!! Julia saw it when she was 5 and she OBSESSED. OBSESSED. and then we moved onto Kiki's Delivery Service and she was obsessed with that one as well. And then Ponyo.

      And I agree - it's my favorite kid movie of all time, very closely followed by Mary Poppins.

      Please report back and tell me all how it went watching the movie!!!

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    2. watch that movie, ha, not what. typos typos

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  5. This book sounds lovely. When you posted about the movie I requested it through our library, but something went wrong so we never got it and I just forgot about it. Now I need to request both items!

    Also - I have to tell you my peony story, because all the petals in the photographs make me so happy. When we moved into our house 10 summers ago, there were several peony plants in bloom in the yard. I was pretty excited. Every year since then they have grown well, but the buds have shriveled and not opened - not even one. I pretty much gave up hope but this year they bloomed! I am so excited - they smell as good as I remember.

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    1. Hurray for library hold system!!!! Now you can have double fun :)

      Ok so this year, we got a bumper crop of peonies, far more than we have ever ever ever had! It was crazy. We had at least double the amount. I think all our warm weather in the spring that we had - so keep the faith in your peonies!!! They could continue to surprise you!

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  6. That movie tops our list of family favorites and I had no idea there was a book! Thanks so much for sharing ~ can't wait to read it! Miyazaki is so genius....

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    1. You are SO welcome, it gives me the greatest joy to share amazing stuff like this!! Seriously. The man is just an amazing talent. What beauty he has brought to the world!

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  7. AWESOME. My ten year old was looking over my shoulder when I read this and said WHAT! Theres a book! His birthday is in August so this is SO going to be one of the presents. Thanks!

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    1. HURRAY for awesome books as birthday presents!!! I'm thrilled!

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  8. and ordered! Thanks, He will be so pleased!! Have you seen up on poppy hill? The kitchen in it is so cool.

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    1. double yay!!! I have NOT seen it and I want to so so so much! Thanks for the remind to get on that.

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  11. Sorry, I have no idea why my comments are here so many times. Goodness, I hope this doesn't come out twice too.

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    1. ha no worries! i don't understand the internet!

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