Title: Hiromi's Hands
Author: Lynne Barasch
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Concepts: jobs, services, markets, economics of gender
Review: Akira Suzuki grew up in Japan in a rural household with seven siblings. He quickly understood the importance of money because his family had very little of it. Among his favorite activities were trips with his mother to the fishmonger; the mounds of fish enthralled him, and his mother’s encouragement to become a sushi chef fueled his dreams. He ultimately did become a sushi chef in a Tokyo restaurant, but it took years of training and working twelve-hour days, with only one day off a month. Even longer work days followed when he moved to the restaurant’s New York City location.
Years later, after Akira married and became a father, his daughter Hiromi insisted that he take her to the fish market. After all, her father worked so hard she almost never saw him, and something about the fish market intrigued her. What started as a love of spending time with him, learning about the best fish to buy, subsequently turned into a request that he teach her how to become a sushi chef. How would her father respond given that virtually all sushi chefs were men and traditional Japanese beliefs held that a woman’s soft, warm hands would spoil the fish?
Hiromi’s Hands is superb. Based on a true story, this book makes an excellent vehicle for teaching children about non-traditional career opportunities for women in the labor market. With closely intertwined lessons about work ethic and Japanese customs and carefully-researched illustrations, this book has enough interesting substance to appeal to a wide readership.
Review by: The Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children