The Perfect Sushi is a charming children’s picture book about a young girl who learns what perfection truly means. Miko likes everything to be perfect, so when she decides to make sushi for her grandmother’s birthday, she believes her dish has to be absolutely error-free. Unfortunately, her early attempts turn out lopsided, and even her grandfather’s sushi lesson doesn’t help. Frustrated, Miko goes for a walk and sees a robot at a Japanese restaurant produce “the most exquisite pieces of sushi.” This gives her an idea. Surely, this robot’s sushi is a much better meal than Miko’s more rustic attempts?
Many readers will likely relate to Miko’s anxieties about being not quite perfect enough. Her love for her grandmother, and her desire to make a meal worthy of this love, shine through in her multiple sushi-making attempts. As readers, we want her to succeed, because she’s clearly giving it her all. The frustration on Miko’s face as she tries and fails and tries and fails again is heartbreakingly real.
Author Emily Satoko Seo makes smart use of rhythm in her narration. She heightens excitement by lending sound effects to actions like squeezing the rice and rolling the sushi (gyu and koro, respectively). Miko’s heart-pounding battlecry of “don-don, don-don, don-don’t give up” in bright red and orange cut-out letters invites readers to cheer her on.
Mique Moriuchi’s artwork combines collage and acrylic to create vibrant scenes that look like animation stills. She uses patterns and texture to liven up everyday objects and backgrounds, and her characters’ faces are wonderfully expressive.
This book’s message is simple, powerful, and heartfelt, and the ending is a heartwarming moment of pure love. A glossary at the end explains Japanese terms, and the book even includes Miko’s Perfect Sushi Recipe for budding young chefs to try for themselves.