Welcome to the Spring 2010 edition of the Storycard Theater Newsletter, our ongoing series of kamishibai storytelling news, performing tips, and history. Please feel free to forward it to your friends and colleagues.

Highlights of This Issue

  1. New Edition of Momotaro the Peach Boy
  2. New Lower Prices
  3. History: Photo Gallery of "Last Kamishibai Man in Tokyo"
  4. Tips: Listening Better the Second Time
  5. Upcoming Events

* News *

2nd Edition of Momotaro the Peach Boy is Coming!

We've always been fond of our first kamishibai story, Momotaro the Peach Boy, published back in 2004. With talking animals, bright red ogres, magic, and adventure, this tale of the boy who hatches from a peach and grows up to save his village is a huge crowd-pleaser. In six years of performing it live, though, we've learned a lot about children's literature, storytelling, and kamishibai technique. So rather than simply reprint the book when it sold out this year, we decided to reinvent it.

The text is now crisper and more vivid, so it's easier to read aloud. There's less exposition and more dialog, increasing the drama. Each page is now presented in English and Japanese, making it helpful for language-learners. We've incorporated more of the symbolism and pacing from the traditional version of the story, expanding the scenes where Momotaro meets the three animals with more repetition for young audiences. We've even included the lyrics to the Momotaro Song.

Illustrator Mario Uribe redrew or enhanced eight of the 12 cards, replacing two of the slower background scenes with vibrant new art. As you can see in the sample below, he even reworked details such as the pheasant's feathers to match the type of bird Momotaro would have seen in Japan.

When we told current owners about updating Momotaro, they all asked, "Why? It's already our favorite!" But when they saw the new text and art, each one agreed it was better. We would like to thank all the teachers, librarians, and students who helped us in completing this new edition — in particular Judy Guitton (editor, Seattle, WA), Kate Kester (former preschool director, Mountain View, CA), Michell Jump (librarian, Fishkill, NY), Kellie Bliss (instructor, Sierra College, Rocklin, CA), Kelly Anderson (teacher, Roseville Community Preschool, CA), and Kathryn Rowland and her 2nd grade class (Oak Chan Elementary School, Folsom, CA). They all provided wonderful suggestions and encouragement.

We'll send out a notice when Momotaro 2 is back from the printer. (Current estimate: May 21)

One of the new scenes Mario Uribe drew for Momotaro the Peach Boy. The flag says "No. 1 in Japan," Momotaro's slogan.

Release Celebration Price Cut

Thanks to printing efficiencies, we have been able to lower the price for all Storycard Theater titles by at least 20%. We hope you'll take this opportunity to round out your collection as we start on our next story. Visit StorycardTheater.com to order with the new pricing.

We're passing our savings on to you: Momotaro, Jack, the Cat, and the Moon Princess are now more affordable.

* History *

Tameharu Nagata
Tameharu Nagata prepares some smoky snacks.
Last summer, we spent a wonderful afternoon touring with Tameharu Nagata, the self-proclaimed "last kamishibai man in Tokyo." David wrote an article about the experience in the current issue of Make magazine, which you can read online for free. We also created this online photo gallery, featuring closeups of Nagata-san's traditional bicycle stage and the adoring young crowds he entertains.

* Tips *

Listening Better the Second Time

Because our stories are designed to read aloud, we test them extensively on live audiences before committing them to print. Beyond asking audiences what they think, we also observe their reactions: Which words were confusing (or hard for us to say)? Which parts got good reactions, and how can we include more of those? If the audience lost interest at times, how can we fix that? These are all helpful exercises for any type of writer, particularly in school settings. When students realize they have to perform their own words in front of their peers, they begin to see the value of editing.

While rewriting Momotaro the Peach Boy, we visited Kathryn Rowland's 2nd grade class at Oak Chan Elementary School in Folsom, California. Hazuki read the new version to the class to get its opinions. Each student gave a thumbs-up. So Hazuki dug deeper by asking if there were any parts they couldn't understand. The students agreed to listen to the story again, and it was clear they were paying even closer attention the second time, trying to find something.

Afterward, they had more questions. Most were about exotic items in the pictures, such as Momotaro's Japanese-style hat and the rice fields in one scene. They also asked about the significance of bowing, which is used in two ways during the story — for respect and apology. Hazuki discovered that reading twice is a useful technique, especially if you ask the audience to pay attention to certain aspects. Fortunately, kids love to hear kamishibai stories over and over again.

Facebook badgeAre you on Facebook? Visit our World of Kamishibai group and share a question, photo, or tip. We'd love to hear how you're using storycards.

* Upcoming Events *

For details and driving directions, please see StorycardTheater.com/events.

May 22 — Performance, Maker Faire (San Mateo, CA)

June 19 — Performance with Kazumi Verkler, Japanese Cultural Festival (Santa Cruz, CA) Free

June 27 —
Workshop, Public Library Association Annual Conference (Washington, D.C.)

July 30 —
Workshop, National Storytelling Conference (Woodland Hills, CA)

July 31 —
Showcase, Northern California Storybook & Literature Festival (Roseville, CA) Free

Would you like us to visit your group? Just write with details.

Happy storytelling!

David and Hazuki
David Battino & Hazuki Kataoka
Authors, Performers & Publishers
Storycard Theater
Folsom, CA

(916) 984-7617 tel
(918) 518-2685 e-fax

Dr. Toy's Top 10 Creative Products (2004)
Parents' Choice Approved Awards (2008)
Storytelling World Resource Award (2010)

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