Sumo Counting and Sumo Opposites are two delightful board books for babies and kids up to two years old that adults will enjoy reading to the little ones.

The drawings are fun and introduce the Japanese sport of sumo wrestling and aspects of Japanese culture. The charming illustrations of sumo wrestlers throughout both of these books introduce new readers to how to count and learn opposites in both English and Japanese. Each Japanese word is written in Hiragana, the Japanese phonetic alphabet and also in romanized Japanese to convey the pronunciation of each word.

The book feels authentic in its presentation of the word selection and in guiding a young learning reader through sumo and Japanese culture. Learning about numbers and opposites is amusing and fun as you watch the sumo wrestlers illustrating the meaning of each word. Yummy, “Oishii” shows a sumo wrestler in delight with ice cream. Yucky, “Mazui” shows a sumo wrestler with insects crawling out of a rice ball.

“Ofuro” means bath. See eight little sumo wrestlers soaking in the ofuro tub. If your little one doesn’t enjoy bath time, they might be more encouraged after seeing these sumo wrestlers enjoying bath time with their boats and rubber ducks. “Mae” and “Ushiro” mean front and back, showing the sumo wrestler wearing the traditional “mawashi”, the loincloth that sumo wrestlers wear during training or in competition.

I’m a Japanese speaker and enjoyed the presentation of sumo culture in these creatively illustrated and thoughtfully written board books by Sanae Ishida. I even learned a few new words!

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