Though it may seem just as applicable to the youth of today, “The Boy of the Three-Year Nap” is actually a retelling of a classic folk tale with the outer trappings of a Japanese setting. A Japanese youth by the name of Taro – whose nickname is the source of the title of this story – is the epitome of lazy. He does little more than sleep and eat while his hard working widowed mother struggles to keep food on the table and make ends meet. No matter how much his mother may plead, Taro refuses to do any sort of work. At least until love comes calling.
When Taro falls in love with the daughter of a rich merchant though, he changes his tune. That is when the focus of “The Boy of the Three-Year Nap” concocts an elaborate scheme in which he disguises himself as a god in order to convince the girl’s father that she would be married to the young man who is well known for being the laziest boy in the neighborhood. (It should be noted that childrens books author Dianne Snyder notes in the foreword that Japanese folklore is rich with localized gods and demons.)
It should further be noted that picture books illustrator Allen Say truly worked some wonderful magic into this story with the stylized Asian visuals that make up this story. Without this lush artwork, “The Boy of the Three-Year Nap” would be little more than just a another book.