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Kenta and the Big Wave

Kenta and the Big Wave

Interest Age: 4–7
Grade: p–2
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: RL.3.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,1

Reading Level: Lexile AD560L
Hardcover : 9781554515776, 32 pages, September 2013 , 9.53" x 7.75"
Paperback : 9781554515769, 32 pages, September 2013 , 9.26" x 7.50"
Paperback (Picture book) : 9781554515769, 32 pages, September 2013 , 9.26" x 7.50"
Rights sold: English


The tsunami has swept everything away—including Kenta’s most prized possession, his soccer ball.

When tragedy strikes Kenta’s small village in Japan, he does all he can to hang on to the things that matter to him most. But amidst the chaos of an emergency evacuation brought on by the tsunami, Kenta and his family must quickly leave their home, taking with them only the barest necessities. Climbing to safer ground, Kenta watches helplessly as his prized soccer ball goes bouncing down a hill and gets swept away by the waves, never to be seen again… that is until it washes up on a beach on the other side of the world, into the hands of a child who takes it upon himself to return the ball to its rightful owner.

In this evocative picture book, Ruth Ohi’s glowing art transports the reader to Japan with gentle images that offer reassurance amidst the background of an environmental catastrophe. Inspired by true stories of personal items being washed ashore thousands of miles away after the tsunami of 2011, Kenta and the Big Wave is about the strength of the human spirit and the power of Mother Nature. Including an afterword explaining tsunamis to young readers.


“The more important message of connection and caring . . . rings loudly throughout Ohi’s soft, gentle illustrations on every page.”

- BookDragon, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, 08/06/13

“Will touch many readers . . . Here is a story that explains, with kindness, that which seems almost inexplicable.” 

- CanLit for Little Canadians, 09/23/13

“The simple text and beautiful illustrations make this a magical story that can be a useful tool to help students deal with the idea of global catastrophes and how the world is connected . . . as well as being enjoyed as a good read. Highly Recommended.”

- Library Media Connection, 05/14

“A bittersweet story that young boys especially will be able to relate to and enjoy reading. Highly recommended.”

- Storywraps, 11/18/13

“Spare language and full-color watercolor illustrations . . . make this a multilayered introduction to Japan, the concept of a tsunami, and the cross-cultural commonality of soccer.”

- School Library Journal, 10/13

“The determination of the people in Kenta's village to hold on to hope is a good message for young readers.”

- CM Reviews, 10/13

“Beautifully written and illustrated.” 

- Resource Links, 12/13

“The story of this simple act of goodness is told as a storyteller might relate it, simple language with big themes.”

- The Pirate Tree, 08/13/13

“An eminently child-friendly treatment of the devastation that follows disaster.”

- Kirkus Reviews, *starred review, 08/28/13

“A very simple but compelling look at surviving a natural disaster.”

- Waking Brain Cells, 10/07/13

“The soccer ball’s journey sustains the book’s nicely limited, childlike perspective while adding a symbolic gesture of help for those harmed by a natural disaster.”

- Booklist, 11/01/13