From the Publisher
"Say's gift is to multiply themes without struggling under their weight. . . . His artistry and power of invention are as strong as ever, and so will be his readers' enthusiasm." —Publishers Weekly, starred Publishers Weekly, Starred
"The quietly dramatic, beautifully evocative, tale contains a cliffhanger of its own, along with exquisite art in the style of Kamishibai picture cards that will attract even the most jaded kid away from the TV screen to enjoy a good, good book."Booklist, starred Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"Say's paintings are lovely: eloquent characterizations, evocative landscapes, and, for the memory sequence, a more freely drawn style that recalls the vanished art form he celebrates." —Horn Book Horn Book
Caldecott-winner Say (Grandfather's Journey) has often written about children adrift between the cultures of East and West. Here, he imagines an old man straddling past and present. The kamishibai man of pre-war Japan brought to neighborhood children cliff-hanger tales, storyboard paintings and homemade sweets. Say's retired kamishibai man-lean and spare, with a face full of kindness-decides one day to return to his old route, familiar landmarks of the city having disappeared under a blanket of asphalt. This time, he tells a new story: his own. "Ah, yes, I can see you now, all your bright faces," he remembers, "clasping coins in your little hands... Patience, everyone! You'll get your sweets." When television arrived, he recalls, his once-eager listeners disappeared, too. "One day a little girl poked her head out the window and shushed me." As he talks, and passersby realize who he is, a great crowd gathers around him-"We grew up with your stories!" "Tell us 'Little One Inch' again!" Say's gift is to multiply themes without struggling under their weight. Aging, cultural change, the way humans seem to lose warmth with technological advances-he gestures toward all of these while keeping the lens tightly focused on the kamishibai man. Readers who worry that Say may be thinking about the fate of his own career should be reassured; his artistry and power of invention are as strong as ever, and so will be his readers' enthusiasm. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In Japan, a Kamishibai man is one who travels around telling stories and handing out candy to children. Jiichan is such a storyteller and the story opens with him explaining to his friend how the world has changed. On his daily route, he reminisces about the times when he had crowds of children eager to hear his stories and eat his candy. He remembers telling the story of "The Peach Boy" and "The Old Man who Made Cherry Trees Bloom." He sits on a park bench and remembers the lines of clapping children asking for more. Time moves on and television takes the place of stories and become the main entertainment for children. This saddens Jiichan and he wishes he could still be a Kamishibai man. He does not understand how children can like blurry pictures instead of beautiful paintings. He questions his talents and what he has done with his life. He remembers a little boy whose favorite story was "Little One Inch." As Jiichan raises his head, that boy stands before him as a grown man. Others come and say they grew up with his stories and beg him to tell them the stories again right there, right then. Kamishibai man knows he will be a storyteller forever. What a wonderful story! The illustrations are simply perfect and capture the eloquence of the story. A superb book and great for reading aloud. 2006, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 6 up.
Kathie M. Josephs
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-An elderly kamishibai (paper theater) man decides to return to the city and spend the day on his former rounds. His wife makes candies for him, just as in the past, and he sets off on his bicycle. Things have changed-there's traffic with honking horns and he wonders, "Who needs to buy so many things and eat so many different foods?" when he sees the shops and restaurants replacing beautiful trees that have been cut. He sets up his theater and begins to tell his personal story of being a kamishibai man in a flashback sequence. Soon he is surrounded by adults who remember him and his stories from their youth. Ironically, that night he is featured on the news on television-the very technology that replaced him. Say's distinctive style and facial expressions are especially touching. A foreword gives readers a glimpse of the importance of the kamishibai man in the author's early life, and an afterword provides a historical look at the forgotten art form. The power of the story and the importance of the storyteller are felt in this nostalgic piece that makes readers think about "progress." Those interested in storytelling and theater will be especially impressed with this offering, but it will have broad appeal.-Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kamishibai means "paper theater" in Japanese, and when Caldecott artist Say was a boy in Japan in the 1940s, a "kamishibai man" on a bicycle used to sell sweets and tell serial tales of heroes and heroines, using picture cards and a wooden stage. This nostalgic story begins when Grandpa, once a kamishibai man, gets a hankering to resurrect his show. Unfortunately, it's been so long he finds himself in an unrecognizable city with tall buildings and rude drivers. Dismayed, he parks his bike in a vacant lot and begins to recount not the beloved "Peach Boy," but his own story of how his show was eventually replaced by television (initially referred to as denki, or electric kamishibai!). Soon enough, Grandpa's surrounded by a crowd of adults who remember him from their childhood, and, ironically, he ends up on the evening news. Say effectively incorporates two illustration styles here-lovely soft watercolors and a more cartoonish style for flashbacks to the heyday of kamishibai. A fascinating window on a bygone art form. (foreword, afterword) (Picture book. 6-10)