This picture book by Japanese- American illustrator and writer is a gentle evocation of a moment from the past. The story is set after the end of the Second World War when Japan was occupied by American troops. In a remote coastal village the children prepare for their annual sports day.
Into this scene comes two strangers, both American service men, who stay and play awhile before heading off… and that is it! Yet, this simple premise makes for a powerful picture book as memories from childhood do. It stays with you and acts a reminder that somethings, such as the joy of childhood are universal. The strangers in this tale appear threatening to the children at first, they look different after all, but the show they put on for the children wins them over. Through such ways are barriers brought down.
Allen Say was born near Yokohama but now lives in the USA. Many of his books are autobiographical in origin and this one is a treasure.
‘The Bicycle Man’ is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?