Review: My Neighbor Totoro The Novel

My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel

Title: My Neighbor Totoro The Novel
Author: Tsugiko Kubo
Illustrator and Original Concept: Hayao Miyazaki
Translator: Jim Hubbert
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Publisher: Viz Media (7th November 2013)

The beloved animation classic by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro, is now a novel. This edition features original illustrations by Miyazaki himself, accompanying a story by veteran children’s author Tsugiko Kubo.

Eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. Soon, in the woods behind the spooky old house, Satsuki and Mei discover a forest spirit named Totoro. When Mei goes missing, it’s up to Satsuki to find her sister, and she’ll need help from some new, and magical, friends.

Rating: *** (3 stars)

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO THE NOVEL by Tsugiko Kubo is literally what it says it is: the novel version of Hayao Miyazaki’s film of the same name. The book tells the story of eleven-year-old Satsuki and her four-year-old sister Mei. The sisters move with their father to the country so they can be closer to their mother, who is ill and resides in Shichikokuyama Hospital.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO THE NOVEL is a really quick and fun read. If you are a fan of Hayao Miyazaki then you will enjoy this book. Tsugiko Kubo and the English translator Jim Hunnert, really capture the feel of Miyazaki’s films. The narrative itself is split brilliantly between the sisters’ stories as they fit into their new home and worry about their mother, and between the forest sprits that haunt the narrative – they have a very definite air of mystery to them.

The book contains some original illustrations by Miyazaki that split up the narrative. They are beautiful sketches that use brown and green watercolours to add depth to the picture. I think the illustrations really work well to provide some imagery to go with the narrative, especially for those of us who haven’t watched the film (which I must confess that I have not, though I have watched some others).

If you are a Studio Ghibli fan then you should seriously consider adding this book to your collection. If you have never seen any of Miyazaki’s work then this book will definitely give you a taste of both his artwork and how he tells stories.

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