From School Library Journal
Grade 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
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*Starred Review* Gr. 1-3. In a foreword, Say explains that Kamishibai means "paper theater" and that years ago Kamishibai men were itinerant storytellers who traveled around Japan on bicycles with a big, wooden box mounted on the back seat. The box contained a miniature theater, and beneath it were drawers of candy that the performer sold to eke out a living. As a storyteller spun his tale, he used picture cards to illustrate dramatic points, finishing each time with a cliffhanger designed to entice the children in his audience to come back another time to hear the continuation of the story. Say's lovely new book is about an elderly Kamishibai man, long retired, who, missing his rounds, decides to pedal back to the old neighborhood for one last performance. The story-within-a-story that emerges reveals why this unique type of performance art has all but disappeared. The quietly dramatic, beautifully evocative tale contains a cliffhanger of its own, and its exquisite art, in the style of Kamishibai picture cards, will attract even the most jaded kid away from the TV to enjoy a good, good book. Michael CartCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved