Although lacking a single literary icon like some countries — the U.K. has Harry Potter; the U.S., Katniss Everdeen; Sweden, Pippi Longstocking; and Finland, Moomins — the breadth and depth of Japanese children’s literature astounds.

The range of work on offer to this impressionable age group — from picture books and manga to novels and short stories, covers a whole host of topics and themes. Search the shelves of any book store and you’ll find everything from haunting depictions of despair and destruction to books about poop and entire series devoted to popular sports.

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