written by Carrie Shepherd and Gemma Correll
illustrated by Fawn Lau
Mameshiba are little bean dogs, each with their own personality. In Meet Mameshiba!, the various bean dogs are introduced to young readers.
There are a few things that make this book worth noting. First off, it’s unique for the fact that Mameshiba is a Japanese thing, but the books are American. They’re not like Viz’s other books, which are translated into English from the Japanese. English is Meet Mameshiba!’sfirst language.
Second, it’s an interesting read for multiple ages. Most of it is pretty basic, and written for young readers. Different characters are introduced with short sentences and each character gets a few pages written about them. However, the book also gives bits of trivia. Some of the trivia I already knew, and some of it was brand new to me. For instance, the book teaches us, “A clam found off the coast of Iceland was determined to be between 405 and 410 years old—Earth’s oldest living creature” and “The ancient Incas of Peru buried peanuts with their mummies.”
Meet Mameshiba!, it seems, is written both for the short attention span and the trivia fan. A small, squarish book, it consists of both comic panels and pages like picture books. There are photographs and drawings both. Sometimes little toys of the Mameshiba appear in real photographs, and at other times they’re simply hand-drawn. This book has no plot, but instead introduces the characters, gives children puzzles and games to do, and pops up frequently with various form of trivia.
Some of the words are a little big for young readers—like “unsolicited”—though the majority of the language is pretty basic. The little bean dogs are cute, and at one point the book shows children how to draw them. The educational value of this book is clear, but it never feels like force-fed education. It’s fun while it lets children (and adults!) learn. The trivia is all over the place, from information on samurai to different kinds of food to more gross information, which would probably interest kids more than adults. Toward the end of the book, there is even a page teaching readers some Japanese words and phrases. The words and phrases are first written in English, then spelled out phonetically for the Japanese, then written in Japanese itself. Meet Mameshiba! is a neat little package of a book with all sorts of things inside it.