Kamishibai Man, written and illustrated by Allen Say, is one of my favorite stories. This heartwarming story tells of one of Japan's storytelling traditions. Kamishibai men used to roll their carts along the streets in Japan clapping wooden boards together to beckon the children. Children would listen to the kamishibai man tell his story and then buy homemade candies from his cart. This story tells of a kamishibai man who has been in retirement but yearns to take his cart into town once again. The city has changed drastically over the years and he daydreams about how it once was. When he awakens from his dreaming, he finds a crowd of adults screaming out to him for his stories-the children who he told his stories to years ago! Get out your Kleenex for this one, ladies and gentlemen!
So, I thought this story was a great writing opportunity for our children. First, we learned more about the history and specifics about kamishibai stories. This video has lots of great information for the kids.
Then, I let the students work in groups to map out the story elements for their own kamishibai story. Each group had to include the setting, characters, problem and solution of their story. After they were done mapping their story elements, students wrote a sloppy copy of their story. The sloppy copy was transferred on to a storyboard format so students could make sure that their story layout included only twelve slides.
Student illustrations had to match the text in the twelve storyboard slides.
These storyboard slides will become the final copy after a final edit.
When storyboarding is finished, each team receives twelve construction sheets of paper. I just have the students sketch out their illustrations in pencil first, and then they watercolor. Here are the first few pages of a published copy with the text that tells the story:
One day in pineapple land...
a hero named Jon Apple was born. He was going to defeat Evil Pickle.
Evil Pickle was stealing cheese from a grocery store named Froger.
Once Jon Apple got there, the evil minion grapes captured Jon Apple
and took him to the dungeon.
After the students finished publishing their stories, I had them tell them to my kindergarten classes. This was a great way to introduce kindergarten to this ancient form of Janapese storytelling as well.