Say, Allen. Drawing From Memory. Scholastic Press: New York, 2011. ISBN: 9780545176866
This book is about the life of Allen Say and his journey to becoming one of Japan’s most renowned artists. Because he was shunned by his father for his artistic desires, he was embraced by Noro Shinpei, Japan’s most famous cartoonist. Desperate to understand his heritage, Say worked hard to understand who he was in a most difficult time. This is his memoir, and it takes a look at the relationship between student and mentor.
This was a really good book. I loved the language used in it. It absolutely reads like someone who’s native tongue is not English, and I feel that that is important, especially in memoirs like this. Despite the wording, it is easy to read and follow.
The flow is not smooth, as we usually like it. In part, because of the wording, but I found myself not reading fluidly because of all the photographs and drawings incorporated into the book, which I loved.
His conversational and light tone of voice made it easy to relate to him and his life.
Overall, this is a good book, and kids with a particular interest in being an artist will enjoy it.
From Kirkus Review:
“Exquisite drawings, paintings, comics and photographs balance each other perfectly as they illustrate Say’s childhood path to becoming an artist.
Although its story overlaps with The Ink-Keeper’s Apprentice (1979), this visual chronicle is a fresh new wonder. It opens with a soft watercolor map of Japan on the left, framed in a rectangle, while on the right is a delicate, full-bleed watercolor of Yokohama’s seashore and fishing village, with two black-and-white photographs pasted on: Say as a child, and the stone beach wall. The early arc takes readers from Say’s 1937 birth, through family moves to escape 1941 bombings and then Say’s nigh-emancipation at age 12, when his mother supported him in his own Tokyo apartment. The one-room apartment “was for me to study in, but studying was far from my mind… this was going to be my art studio!” The art table’s drawer handle resembles a smile. Happily apprenticing with famous cartoonist Noro Shinpei, Say works dedicatedly on comic panels, still-lifes and life drawing. Nothing—not political unrest, not U.S. occupation, not paternal disapproval—derails his singular goal of becoming a cartoonist. Shinpei’s original comics are reproduced here, harmonizing with Say’s own art from that time and the graphic-novel–style panels, drawings and paintings created for this book.
Aesthetically superb; this will fascinate comics readers and budding artists while creating new Say fans.”
From School Library Journal:
“This “journey through memories” uses a scrapbook format featuring the author’s photographs, sketches, drawings, and comic-style panels. Say shares his love of comics and the important influence they have in his art. The book is a poignant tribute to his mentor, Japanese cartoonist Noro Shinpei.”
Books by Allen Say:
Grandfather’s Journey ISBN 9780395570357
Tea with Milk ISBN 9780395904954
Tree of Cranes ISBN 9780395520246
The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young ISBN 9780316076289
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours byDuncan Tonatiuh ISBN 9780810997318