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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 31, 2001

Children's writer fulfills self-promise

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Staff Writer

This year, it all came together for the much-hyphenated James Rumford (writer, artist, printer, papermaker, bookbinder, storyteller).

James Rumford is a Cades Award winner and oft-lauded author.

Advertiser library photo

Not because he received a Cades Award for Literature. Not because the New York Times raved about his most recent book for Houghton Mifflin, "Traveling Man" or the Smithsonian magazine named the story of a Moroccan wanderer to its 2001 list of Notable Books for Children. Not because he was interviewed on National Public Radio. Not even because his name has been mentioned in the same breath as the Caldecott Medal, the career-making epitome of prizes for a children's book illustrator (they'll be announced Jan. 21).

Six years of writing books came together, he said, after he completed "Ka-hala-o-Puna: Ka U'i O Manoa," the story of the sleeping man on Wa'ahila Ridge. He is proud of having been able to adapt the violent tale in a sensitive way for children.

It was also in April that he remembered something he had buried deep: that when he was 11, he actually vowed he'd be a children's book writer someday. And win the Caldecott, because his class was working on a project on the Caldecott winners.

Since those thoughts crossed his mind, Rumford has written and sketched out six books.

He is humbled when people tell him stories about how children's books have affected them: "Doing these books is a real honor. There is that person out there who, this book is for them. You may never know it, but their lives are going to be changed because of these books."