book cover Japan Diary
by Trudy White

Novel | 148 pp | Years 58

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[ Overview | Author profile | Useful websites | Focus questions ]


Japan Diary presents two diaries from exchange students in Japan and Australia. Amy writes about her experiences in Japan in 'My Double Summer' from the time when she applies for an exchange until her departure after six months staying in Japan with the Nakagawa family. At the same time, Taro Nakagawa stays in Australia with Amy's family and records his experiences and thoughts in his diary 'Dragon Boy, Hero!'

The two perspectives presented by Amy and Taro provide a fascinating insight into two very different cultures. Both highlight not only the unique qualities of each culture, but also the fact that we all share very similar needs and social interactions. Trudy White has successfully captured the voices of these two teenage students as they learn to cope in a foreign land, struggle with the language, different traditions and expectations, and also learn the value of friendship, trust and openness.

The simple and effective illustrations by the author add significant detail to the text, as well as reflecting the views and experiences of the two students. This book will engage young teenagers as they relate to the dilemmas and challenges faced by Amy and Taro. It also provides an interesting exploration of Australian and Japanese cultures from alternative perspectives.

Author profile

Trudy White lives in Melbourne, working from a studio in an old building in the middle of the city. She has studied painting, beekeeping, plant science and writing. To write Japan Diary, Trudy was inspired and informed by time she spent in Japan and by interviews she conducted with exchange students. Her illustrations are created with ink and watercolour, and her artwork has been exhibited in Melbourne.

Trudy has previously published Table of Everything and has illustrated The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. She is currently working on an illustrated novel for young adults and picture books for younger readers. Trudy also visits schools and runs workshops that combine creative writing and drawing exercises to inspire students in their own writing.

Useful websites

Focus questions

Before reading the book

  • Examine the outside of the book. What reasons would the author have for presenting this book with two 'front' covers?
  • From the 'Japan Diary: My Double Summer' cover, what information is provided about the writer of this diary? Discuss the information provided in the illustrations and title.
  • From the 'Japan Diary: Dragon Boy, Hero!' cover, what information is provided about the writer of this diary? Discuss the information provided in the illustrations and title.
  • From the front cover information, predict the types of experiences that the diary writers may have.

During and after reading the book

  • In what ways did Amy and Taro share similar emotional experiences?
  • What were the major cultural differences that Amy and Taro had to adapt to in their new environments? Note any examples as you read the diaries.
  • How do the two diaries explore the social expectations and differences that the students faced?
  • What situations did Amy and Taro find themselves in where they needed to make moral choices about the actions that they undertook?

© Curriculum Corporation 2006