Shiego Watenabe 1928-2006


Shigeo believed that children’s books are the bridge across people. He was always proud of being a member of IBBY, particularly for being involved in establishing JBBY in the early 1980s. What he treasured most was friendship he developed through IBBY across cultural, linguistic and political boundaries.

Shigeo began his career in children’s literature as librarian in post World War II Japan in his hometown, Shizuoka. In mid 1950s he worked for two years at New York Public Library, followed by twenty years as a professor of library science at Keio University in Tokyo. During fifty years of his career as a writer-translator of children’s books, Shigeo left many significant works, including How do I put it on (Bodley Head) and Jeepta, the little fire engine (Fukuinkan). He also introduced to Japanese children hundreds of works created by major American, Western, Asian and African authors and illustrators, including the books done by Dr Seuss, Robert McCloskey, Hardie Gramatky, Lois Lensky, Margery Sharp and Girma Belachew.

Shigeo will be remembered as a kind, gentle father, husband, grandfather and friend. He always had a good sense of humor and interesting stories to tell. Shigeo died in Tokyo after battling an illness (cerebral infarction) for fourteen months. He was seventy-eight years old. He is survived by his wife Kuniko (his first wife Kazue passed away in 1991), three sons Tetsuta, Mitsuya, and Kota, also four grandchildren, Coco, Nanaho, Masato and Ringoro.

Tetsuta Watanabe