Found Treasure: Taro and the Tofu (1962)

In the early 1800s, a five-story milking house and barn was built in West Chester, Pa., packed with cozy nooks, creaking stairways and stone walls. Today, it’s known as Baldwin’s Book Barn, a used and rare bookstore that carries thousands of old titles, maps and prints.

Baldwin’s is the best kind of used bookstore. You have to duck your head from low walls, slide narrowly between towering stacks, and patiently tilt your head to siphon through the spines. It was here that I found a true treasure: Masako Matsuno’s Taro and the Tofu, published in 1962.

In engaging direct-address, Matsuno introduces us to young Taro, who mistakenly gets too much change from the tofu vendor and must decide whether he should return the extra money or have a feast at the candy store.

Matsuno’s story is illustrated by Kazue Mizumura‘s amazing watercolors. These are two of my favorites.

TaroSo much story in the prose and the watercolors!

Spoiler alert: Taro decides to give the money back, and he gets a chocolate for his honesty, “which tasted good, you know.”

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