My Neighbor Totoro is my favorite of the many great Hayao Miyazaki animated films. In fact, it is my favorite anime and my favorite children’s film of all time. So when I learned that the story was coming out in novel form for young readers, I was curious but a little skeptical. Could a book capture the pure magic of the film?
The answer happily is yes. This novelization by Tsugito Kubo from Miyazaki’s original story stays absolutely true to the film in spirit as well as in the tale itself. It is also beautifully illustrated by Miyazaki’s own line drawings, so that the little girls, Satsuki and Mei, look exactly like they are supposed to look, a fact of vital importance to lovers of the film.
The story unfolds when 11-year-old Satsuki and 4-year-old Mei move with their father to an allegedly haunted house in a country village to be near the girls’ mother, who is in the hospital suffering from tuberculosis. The girls love the house from the start and it is not long before they discover that there is magic in the forest that surrounds it, including the guardian spirit Totoro.
Children will love this delightful tale of adventure and may well make lifelong friends of Satsuki and Mei. Grownups will be charmed too. Those who are already fans of the movie will love having this companion book, and those who have not seen the movie yet will want to see it. This is the 25th year anniversary of My Neighbor Totoro, and it is just as fresh, engrossing, and utterly wonderful as it was when it first came out, in book form as well as on film. The story underscores the reality that children are children all over the world and children everywhere will easily identify with sturdy, responsible Satsuki and her more willful little sister. And everyone will love Totoro and his little spirits and the inimitable Cat Bus!
While the book is recommended for grades 4-6, it would make great read-aloud material for children as young as 6 and grownups will be charmed too. This grownup already knew the story and still stayed up late to finish the last few pages! The book is recommended for children and adults of all ages. Plan to make it a package with the movie.