When Momo goes to the library, the emperor comes out of a picture book of The Emperor’s New Clothes, saying, “I want to know what happened next with Aota Sanae.” Momo visits Anzu in hospital, and the emperor flies out of a red book in her bag, setting the town abuzz with rumor. A junior high school student comes forward saying that Aota Sanae is his mother, and Momo goes to see her. Sanae reveals that, to her regret, when she went to hospital as a child she lashed out at and chased away the stepmother who looked after her kindly, and took out her anger on The Emperor’s New Clothes after identifying her father with the emperor in the story. Thus, the emperor gets to meet Sanae, but rather than vanishing, he goes on to live with Momo. A wolf and an amanojaku (contrary demon) also come out of their books, wanting to know what happened next with their readers. Finally, a ghost emerges, who is connected to Momo, her father, and Anzu as well.
Momo is withdrawn and socially awkward, so it is interesting to watch her help the characters from the library’s books with their searches and get to know the town, deepening ties with the people there. All the townspeople the books’ characters are searching for have their own past and present troubles, provoking contemplation about our reasons for reading in the first place. There are also letters from Momo to people important to her at the start of each chapter, and the reader can enjoy trying to work out who the intended recipients are. (DY)
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