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Away, away, ever so far away, near the western shores of the
Ocean of Peace, lie the Happy Islands, the Paradise of Children.

Some people call this ocean the "Pacific" and they call the
Happy Islands "Japan," but the meaning is just the same. Those
are only their grown-up names, that you find them by on the map,
in the geography.

They are truly Happy Islands, for the sun shines there so
brightly that all the people go about with pleasant, smiling
faces, and the children play out of doors the whole year through
without ever quarreling. And they are never, never spanked! Of
course, the reason for that is that they are so good they never,
never need it! Or maybe their fathers and mothers do not believe
in spanking.

I have even been told--though I don't know whether to think it's
true or not--that Japanese parents believe more in sugar-plums
than in punishments to make children good!

Anyway, the children there are very good indeed.

In a little town near a large city on one of the Happy Islands,
there is a garden. In the garden stands a house, and in that
House there live Taro, who is a boy, and Take (Pronounce Tah'-
kay), who is a girl.

They are twins. They are Japanese Twins and they are just five
years old, both of them.

Of course, Taro and Take do not live alone in the house in the
garden. Their Father and Mother live there too, and their
Grandmother, who is very old, and the Baby, who is very young.

Taro and Take cannot remember when Grandmother and Father and
Mother happened, because they were all there when the Twins
came; and the Twins could not possibly imagine the world without
Father and Mother and Grandmother.

But with the Baby it was different. One day there wasn't any
Baby at all, and the next day after that, there he was, looking
very new but quite at home already in the little house in the
garden, where Taro and Take lived.

"Taro" means eldest son, and the Baby might have been called
"Jiro," because "Jiro " means "second," and he was the second
boy in the family; but from the day he came they called him just
"Bot'Chan." That is what they call boy babies in Japan.

"Take" means "bamboo," and the Twins' Father and Mother named
their little daughter "Take" because they hoped she would grow
up to be tall and slender and strong and graceful like the
bamboo tree.

Now, can you think of anything nicer in this world than being
Twins, and living with a Mother and Father and Grandmother and a
Baby Brother, in a dear little house, in a dear little garden,
in a dear little, queer little town in the middle of the Happy
Islands that lie in the Ocean of Peace?

Taro and Take thought it was the nicest thing that could
possibly have happened; though, as they hadn't ever lived
anywhere else, or been anybody but themselves for a single
minute, I don't see how they could be quite so sure about it.

This book is all about Taro and Take and the Baby, and what a
nice time they had living. And if you want to know some of the
things that happened on the very first day that the Twins and
Bot'Chan ever saw each other you can turn over to the next page
and read about the day the Baby came. That tells all about it,
just exactly as it was.

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