My Neighbour Totoro has to be one of my favourite films, it’s as cute as it is magical. So when my twinnie bought me the book for Christmas, maybe my birthday, I was ecstatic! I was expecting this to basically be the same as the film so it was a nice surprise to discover it was actually different. Perhaps this was a first draft, so this will either disappoint you or make you happy as you’re not reading a story you already know.
My biggest disappointment has to be that Totoro is hardly in it, this book is told through Satsukis eyes rather than both sisters which means we don’t get Meis encounter. Which is also our first encounter. We also miss out on their mini adventure when they get to travel as the wind after growing the seedlings in the garden.
Although disappointed with the lack of forest furries we do get a better insight into their home and family life. We find out where they used to live and the family they lived with, instead of one of the Totoro scenes instead we get a chapter where the sisters go back to stay with family and we get an insight of how they used to live and how big of a difference their life now is living in the country.
I couldn’t write this review without including some of the amazing illustrations included.
For me the hardest part to get on with is their father. He gives the impression that me may not be able to cope with the two girls without their mother which begs the question why would he move away from family who can help him as he’s constantly busy with work. It’s almost sheer luck that Granny lives in the village and is able to take care of Mei when he can’t. The other thing is struggled with I the fact that for an eleven year old girl Satsuki takes on a lot of responsibility, this maybe just be a cultural thing which is fine, but personally having to read it was rather odd. We see an example of the change in Satsuki when she and Mei go back to stay with family and you see how different things are between the two homes. There is a scene between her and her aunt that illustrates this best, Satsuki is holding matches and her aunt tells her off for playing with them, but in her everyday life Satsuki would use to them light the fire for the bath and stove.
This was a lovely book and I am glad it differed from the film as it wasn’t like reading a carbon copy making it interesting, the inclusion of illustrations was a nice touch especially if reading to young children. But I can’t hide my disappointment at the lack of Totoros big and small. See you in the next post.