Kazumi Yumoto

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Biography

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Kazumi Yumoto is a developing writer, with only three novels currently to her credit. She was born in Tokyo in 1959 and still resides there. Her first interest was music, and she studied composition at Tokyo University of Music, testing her writing skills with study texts for operas. After graduation, she wrote radio play endings and film scripts for television.

In her Boston Globe-Horn Book Award speech, she lists two writers who have had an influence on her development, mentioning Stephen King's story "The Dead Body" and Carson McCullers's books about children. She also emphasizes the importance of reading as a way of understanding the world as well as the writer's craft. She spent a fairly normal childhood in Tokyo, but was a lonely child who did not like school and spent much of her time with a little sparrow she had rescued. By the age of seven she was reading voraciously and her current interest in writing goes back to her attempts to understand her world, and later her interest in understanding her memories of important events in her life.

Her first young adult novel, The Friends (1992) gained her much notoriety inside her own country. As reported by the online book service Nagel & Kimche, the wellknown Japanese producer Shinji Somai filmed The Friends in 1994 and there was also a 1994 radio play version. In 1996 it was published in English by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The Friends won Yumoto the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction in 1997, the Hungry Mind Children's Books of Distinction Award in 1997 and, to Cathy Hirano's credit, the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translation in 1997. Yumoto was nominated for the Hawaii's Nene Award in 2002. Friends was also named an ALA Notable Children's Book and won the Recommended Book Prize from Japan School Library Book Club. Her second novel, The Spring Tone, was nominated for the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize in 1999. Her third, The Letters, has just appeared but promises to be as strong as the others. She is assisted by the able translations of Cathy Hirano and has been published in many languages including Dutch, English, French and German. It is likely that we can expect many more novels from this careful and thoughtful author.