Sensitive portrayal of cultural issues wins award for author

Sara Huebner

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A world before television and radio existed, and the only form of entertainment children had was a man on a bike who told stories and gave out candy for a quarter, was the world of author Allen Say’s book Kamishibai Man, which he read during the 22nd Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference last night in the Student Center Ballroom.

The Virginia Hamilton Conference is the longest running literary conference in the country, said Carolyn Brodie, professor and codirector for the Institute for Library and Information Literature Education.

The conference runs through today from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with workshop sessions, speakers and presentations.

Say, a native of Japan, moved to the United States with his father when he was 16 and was enrolled in the Harding Military Academy in Glendora, Calif. Say has written and illustrated more than 25 books for children and young adults.

His books have won him the Virginia Hamilton Literacy Award “for his sensitive portrayal of cultural issues and his enduring contribution to the field of multicultural literature for youth,” Brodie said.

Library and information science graduate students Sara Phillips and Judy Crist both liked Say’s book reading.

“I liked learning more about Japanese culture and background to his stories,” Phillips said.

Kamishibai Man is the story of a candy seller as well as a storyteller. He would enter a village or a neighborhood loudly clapping together two wooden blocks. This was the signal for the young children to come from their homes to gather around him for a kamishibai performance.

“His story was delightful,” Crist said. “It reflected a blending of the old and new cultures and traditions in Japan.”

Virginia Hamilton was one of the most distinguished writers for children and young adults. The recipient of every major award and honor in her field, she is the first African-American woman to have won the coveted Newbery Award.

Contact libraries and information reporter Sara Huebner at [email protected].