| Hajimete no Otsukai is a best-selling picture book about the first errand of a small girl. This is the first story picture book with a text by Tsutsui Yoriko (1945 -) and illustrations by Hayashi Akiko (1945 -). |
Mii-chan, a five-year-old girl, is asked by her mother to go to a shop and buy milk for the baby all by herself. She goes through the town, up a slope, to the shop, with two 100-yen coins in her hand. What she did and how she felt at each step of her errand is closely described in both by words and pictures. In the end, she buys the milk and leaves the store - without receiving change. The cover illustration shows smiling Mii-chan with a package of milk in her hands. Probably this is her smile as she shows her mother after her successful errand. Adult readers as well as children sympathize with the idea that pride that one can do something by oneself and the accomplishment of a hard task greatly helps children mature.
Pictures with color pencils and color ink are by Hayashi. They are calm, tender, and realistic, and welcomed by many readers. Hayashi drew the detailed pictures with keen observant eyes. Pictures tell more than the story itself: a bill for a lost cat, for example, can be seen in a picture, and in another, there is the cat itself. Those playful elements attract readers into the world of this picture book.
The pictures are highly praised by many critics: one says that the success of this book owes much to the well-calculated pictures by Hayashi: another says that the pictures capture the moment of the growth of a child. On the other hand, some claimed that they are stereotyped and weak in expression.
Hajimete no Otsukai was first published in a Kodomo no Tomo [Children's Companion] Library hardcover edition. Later, it became one of the Children's Companion Album series.