すまいるえいご Carp streamers and baby animals

May is one of my favourite months in Japan because I just love to see the

colourful carp streamers everywhere early in the month, as well as the

bright green leaves and flowers in a riot of colour everywhere.

It is springtime in full swing!

And the time when many baby animals are born, too.

Froebel-kan has combined these themes in the May issue of Smile English.

I love the pictures of the mother and baby animals and the story about

the lost carp streamer.

I have the greatest pleasure of translating this delightful series each month.

Young children learn English naturally through the beautiful pictures, simple stories,

fascinating themes and child-centered activities.





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Writing for Oxford University Press

My story ‘Hana's  Yellow Hat',

and reading text 'Harvest Moon Festivals'

are part of the Dragonfly Reader series,

published by Oxford University Press,

which helps students to develop good

reading habits while exploring Asian cultural themes and values.

Schools can purchase Dragonfly Readers from Oxford University Press.

Learn more about the series at






Dragonfly Readers is a new 9-levelled graded

reading series which promotes reading for

pleasure and develops reading comprehension

skills, while exploring Asian cultural themes and values.

'Hana's Yellow Hat' is in level 1 and 'Harvest

Moon Festivals' is in level 2 of the reading series.


I have also written a reading text for level 3

which will be published soon and will be writing 2 texts

for level 4 during the next few months.


Each story or reading text is in an anthology

which contains 3 stories or texts on a certain theme.

The theme of the anthology for 'Hana's Yellow

Hat' is 'Our School' and the title of the anthology

in which 'Harvest Moon Festivals' appears is

'Festivals in Different Seasons'.


'Hana's Yellow Hat' was really fun to write

but quite a challenging task.

There were a limited amount of words and

vocabulary that I could use because this was a

level 1 reader but I wanted to introduce the cultural

themes of how the school year begins in April in Japan

when the cherry blossoms are usually in bloom,

how the first graders walk in orderly groups to school

for the first month or so with a leader who carries a flag

and how many children wear yellow hats and carry the

famous randoseru (satchels or backpacks) on their backs. 


'Harvest Moon Festivals' was interesting to write because

it involved a lot of research.

In this reading text I introduced the way that the harvest

moon festival is celebrated in Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea.

I learned a lot!

I was particularly surprised at how different the moon cakes are

in each country (colour and shape) and just how big the festival

is in China (people usually get several days to even a week's

holiday for the Harvest Moon Festival in China,

compared to it not even being a holiday in Japan). 


As the Dragonfly Readers have only just come out, they are

currently only being sold directly to schools in Mainland China,

India, Pakistan and Malaysia

and are not sold in bookstores or in Japan, yet. 


Personally, I think that this series would be really wonderful

for children to be able to read in Japan because they can learn

so much about cultures in other Asian countries.

In Japan, we already have many books for children that cover

European, American and Australian customs, holidays and

festivals, but how nice it would be for children to learn more

about the countries that are close by. 

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すまいる英語 Smile Eigo

I have had the great pleasure to work as part of a team

on the Smile Eigo series of monthly publications 

that will be launched in Japan in April, 2019.

Some of you may have already seen the introductory CM

on the television.



My role has been mainly as the Japanese to English

translator (everything is written in Japanese first

and then translated) and as a language and culture



Smile Eigo is published by Froebel-Kan Co., Ltd

which is actually a Japanese publishing company

with a history of over 100 years. 

The books are for young children to enjoy English

at home and cover themes that children are interested in,

such as food, nature (e.g. creatures in their surroundings

and growing fruit) and show interesting facts with

clear and attractive pictures. In each issue there is a

picture story, conversation page (with funny characters),

a counting page and an experience page where children

can actually try making something simple connected to

the main theme of the issue. 

There is a "speaking pen" that children can use to hear

the words on the page. 


These are a couple of photos showing the front cover of

the first issue and the list of contents.

It's a great publication which gives children the opportunity

to learn English naturally at home and become familiar 

with vocabulary connected to their immediate surroundings.







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What have I been up to....?

I just checked my blog and found that I haven't 

written anything on it for over a year!

So I thought I should update the blog for anyone

who may be interested.

First of all, I had a major move last year from

the west Tokyo area to the wild Sotobo coastal

area of Chiba. I have always wanted to live near

the sea so I plunged in and moved from the suburbs

of Tokyo to a small, rural community of 7000 residents.








It may not be as convenient as the city, as there are few

buses or trains but if I time it well I can get into Tokyo

in about one and half hours. So I'm not so isolated.

Some people thought I was retiring but no way is that

happening yet!

I am still working writing books, translating, teaching

and giving presentations.

I'm also dong some voluntary work in a sea turtle protection group here.

I do enjoy the fresh air, my garden, and walking or

cycling to the beach most days. Winter is really quiet. Time to write poetry!

In the summer I go bodyboarding most days for an hour or so. 

We only have only one supermarket here so it is simple

to know where to shop! 

I have no idea who reads this blog or follows what I am doing.

I know everyone is busy with their own lives.

But just to let you know I'm still here!

And I'm still working! Still writing stories!

Still making washi and nendo pictures!

So I'll now follow this blog entry with a few more blog

articles about a couple of projects I've been working on recently.

Stay tuned...

| Books, events and activities (past and upcoming) | 11:00 | comments(0) | trackbacks(0) | pookmark |

Please contact me about any proposals for publishing or events

I hold narration events, book-readings, events for children, exhibitions and presentations to teachers of English.
I also write and illustrate picture books and translate from Japanese to English.

I am always interested in hearing about new opportunities, so please contact me if you have any proposals for collaboration or would like me to hold an event for your group, school or cafe.


Here are some photos of some of the events I have held or participated in during the past.


| Invite me to hold or participate in an event | 09:06 | comments(0) | trackbacks(0) | pookmark |

mpi Kids English Tour 2017

The 2107 mpi Kids Tour events in Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo and Fukuoka finished today with the final event in Fukuoka.


This year, Mari Nakamura and I gave presentations on using the activity books based on picture books that we co-authored and were recently published by mpi. The activities in these books draw on our long experience in English education in Japan and are based on nurturing the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity in young learners. 


I had a great time giving presentations in Osaka and Nagoya. It was really fun to interact with the teachers.

Mari Nakamura presented in Tokyo and Fukuoka.

Izumi Miyashita gave a seminar on her original extensive reading activities in the classroom using mpi's BBL series.




More information on the activity books and an interview with Mari and I can be found here:






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Picture Book Activity Books

I have co-authored 9 picture book activity books with Mari Nakamura that will be released on 27th September, 2017.

These books are closely linked to the series of 9 picture books published by mpi Phonics.

The artwork in the activity books was produced by the same illustrators who illustrated each picture book so the artwork, storyline and text are all preserved and developed in the activity books.

The activities focus on the 21st century skill set and active learning for young leanrners of English and there are hundred of many original activities, such as creating a turtle shell, designing a snake, racing to collect the missing five little ducks, tracking to the end of long milkshake straws, observing nature and everyday surroundings and self-expression. The activities are in English but the instructions are in English and Japanese.

Orders can be made here:

Amazon activity books


| Books, events and activities (past and upcoming) | 23:38 | comments(0) | trackbacks(0) | pookmark |

Using English picture books at junior high school: parts 2 and 3

In part 1, I wrote about how I introduced one of my picture books, "Blue Mouse, Yellow Mouse" at Musashi JHS in July.

The students then got into groups and developed the story in whichever way that they wanted. I told them to continue the story from the last page or to insert some new scenes or to take the story off on any tangent they wished during the course of the story.

On 31st August I went to see the skits they had developed and gave them some advice about the content and presentation.

The students really came up with some super original stories, such as Blue Mouse Land going to war with Yellow Mouse Land and Yellow Mouse being thrown into prison, a White Cat up to no good disturbing the peace in Rainbow Land and Green Mice going off on an adventure and making friends with Purple Mice.

The students made costumes, practiced their skits and performed them at the school festival on 9th and 10th September. I managed to see some of the dramas on 9th September and was really impressed with how they had developed their ideas since the previous class.

Picture books are a source of imagination, stimulation and creativity for all ages!




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2-day summer picture book event held in Shibuya

 23rd and 24th August 2017 I held 2 days of events for young children focusing on picture books.

These events were organized by Trivector, a company specializing in translation and language services.

Trivector's reports about the events (in Japanese) can be read here:



I really enjoyed meeting the Mums and children.

At first everyone was shy but within a short time

all of the children were enjoying storytelling, songs, dancing, quizzes,

games and craft activities.   





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An original way to use English picture books at junior high school in Japan: Part 1

On 8th July I had the great pleasure of visiting Musashi Junior High School in Musashi Sakai, Tokyo, again.

The teachers had thought of a really ingenious way to use one of my picture books (Blue Mouse, Yellow Mouse) that would help the students develop storytelling skills and fluency.

After talking about how I write and illustrate my stories, we got straight down to reading Blue Mouse, Yellow Mouse out loud together, being careful with intonation and expression. Then the students got into groups of five and their task was to think of a way that they could develop or modify the story e.g. thinking of scenes beyond the final page (what did the 10 green mice get up to?), inserting a new scene or developing the conversation in other scenes. Finally, they will develop skits that they will perform at the school festival in September.

This was Part 1. Part 2 will be held on 31st August when I get the chance to see the skits that the students have developed and give them some feedback. I can't wait!!! Thank you Rumi Sato-sensei for organizing such an interesting project.






| Books, events and activities (past and upcoming) | 22:37 | comments(0) | trackbacks(0) | pookmark |

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