Dec 242018
Review: Kamishibai Man
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Kamishibai Man

Author: Allen Say

Hard cover

Ages: 3-8 years

I have a very soft spot for cultures. I find them fascinating and each one has such a unique value set and lessons to learn. I wish to give my son the exposure of many cultures and many beautiful lessons as the lesson given by this beautiful story book Kamishibai Man.

The story is set in Japan. The Kamishibai or paper theater man takes his cycle and clicks wooden blocks to invite children to come and listen to his folk tales. He takes a small amount from the interested children and shows them pictures with his story. At the end he distributes home made sweets lovingly made by his wife.

The Kamishibai man grows old and stops going out with his cycle. But one day he does, only to see the empty street where he once performed. No one appreciated him. At least that’s what he thinks. One man recognizes him and them suddenly he becomes the storyteller once again.

The story, Kamishibai Man, was a reminder that the gadgets and big malls have changed our own tradition. When my mother was a child she too would occasionally see a ‘picturewala’ who showed a small film while singing songs in the narrow alleys of old Delhi.  When I read this story to my five year old boy, I was surprised that he was mature enough to appreciate the old man.

“He should keep telling stories.” He said.

“But, all the children are watching tv and going to malls like you.” I replied.

He thinks for a while. “He can come on weekends then.” The wise five year old suggested. I thought about his response to the question. Of course we cannot prevent change but we sure can accommodate and preserve our cherished culture.

I definitely recommend this story book. A wonderful lesson taught with a fantastic example and life like illustrations. Other books written by Allen Say are Tea with Milk and Emma’s Rug.

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