Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window is a children’s book written by Japanese television personality and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. Published in 1981 it became an instant bestseller in Japan. The common wisdom is that the book is about the values of the unconventional education that Kuroyanagi received at Tomoe Gakuen, a Tokyo elementary school founded by educator Sosaku Kobayashi during World War II, and it is considered her childhood memoir.
Very true but there is much more being expressed in the simple language of this extraordinary novel. It is perhaps better seen as an adult novel written in a way that both focuses on the education and development of children but also slyly informs the adult reader with alternate views on the development of children, especially in opposition to many of the long-held beliefs and practices prevalent in Japan before the war.