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Drawing from Memory [Hardcover]

Allen Say

List Price: CDN$ 19.99
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2011
Caldecott Medalist Allen Say presents a stunning graphic novel chronicling his journey as an artist during WWII.

Drawing from Memory is Allen Say's own story of his path to becoming the renowned artist he is today. Shunned by his father, who didn't understand his son's artistic leanings, Allen was embraced by Noro Shinpei, Japan's leading cartoonist and the man he came to love as his "spiritual father." As World War II raged, Allen was further inspired to consider questions of his own heritage and the motivations of those around him. He worked hard in rigorous drawing classes, studied, trained-and ultimately came to understand who he really is.

Part memoir, part graphic novel, part narrative history, Drawing from Memory presents a complex look at the real-life relationship between a mentor and his student. With watercolor paintings, original cartoons, vintage photographs, and maps, Allen Say has created a book that will inspire the artist in all of us.


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From the Author

"I am striving to give shape to my dreams—the old business of making myths—the fundamental force of art." —Allen Say (Caldecott Medal acceptance speech for Grandfather's Journey)

About the Author

ALLEN SAY is one of the most beloved artists working today. He is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for Grandfather's Journey, and also won a Caldecott Honor and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for The Boy of the Three-Year Nap (written by Dianne Snyder). Many of Allen's stories are derived from his own experiences as a child. His other books include The Bicycle Man, Tea with Milk, and Tree of Cranes, hailed by The Horn Book in a starred review as "the achievement of a master in his prime." Allen's recent book, Erika-San, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful and Meaningful Insight into an Artist, His Life, and His Journey Sept. 10 2011
By clawhammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Having read "Grandfather's Journey" as a teacher with my 4th grade class many times, I was pleased and excited to see this new book by Allen Say. The story and illustrations combine to give the reader insight into a life full of challenges and joy. This book is excellent on its own, but in combination with Allen Say's other books, this autobiographical book will give teachers and students valuable knowledge about the author/illustrator as well as what it takes to become an artist.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To state that the illustrations are stunning is an understatement Nov. 4 2011
By GraphicNovelReporter.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One of the many amazing features in Drawing from Memory is Allen Say's uncanny ability at storytelling and revisiting ideas and concepts he has previously discussed and make them just as personal, just as sincere an experience for the readers as if they were experiencing them for the first time. Masterfully blending original drawings with photographs, the book possesses a sense of time, place, history, and most important, culture that permeate the pages.

From the onset, Say introduces a subtle metaphor that shapes not only the progression but also the thematic structure of the book. Born near the sea, Say reveals that his mother valiantly tried to keep him at home due to a fear of him drowning. Although this parental control allowed his mother to introduce reading and drawing to Say, particularly comic books and illustrations as the seeds of his own career, the unfolding narrative is one of exploration, of constant, almost restless momentum forward that finally lands him in the apprenticeship of Noro Shinpei and later living in the United States. Forced to hide his growing passion for art from his father, Say found encouragement and praise from his teacher, Mrs. Morita, following his family's relocation after World War II. Eventually, after securing his own apartment at the age of twelve, Say happened upon a profile story of artist Tokida in the Asahi newspaper that led to a meeting with Shinpei that dramatically altered the course of his life.

To state that the illustrations are stunning is an understatement as Say blends various styles and approaches to capture a specific emotion and sense of place. Scratchy pencil line art and vivid watercolors mix with black and white family photographs and finely honed, sharply ink washed pages that convey a stark sense of realism alongside the more fantasy elements of the story. Not only do these variety of styles and techniques display Say's artistic diversity and talents, but they also help reinforce and convey the vast range and sense of passion, excitement, dismay, joy, and turmoil that his actors undergo.

Designing Drawing from Memory more as an illustrated book than a traditional form of sequential, graphic art, Say nevertheless employs a grid pattern on certain pages that audiences and fans of comic strip art will enjoy and appreciate. The text is told in the past tense and thus provides readers not only a window into Say's personal history, but also Say's interpretation of events as objects of memory rather than immediate experience. Yet, the inclusion of explanatory notes or pictures as evidence or specific examples may divorce some readers from the sense of place and time Say is covering. This is not so much a fault in the narrative progression of the autobiography, but potentially rather a slight bump or small diversion from the story flow for the sake of comprehension and clarity.

Well-written and very introspective, Drawing from Memory serves as a nice companion for fans of Say's fiction and a valuable resource for educators who utilize his work in the classroom. As a pedagogical tool, Say's book can also provide teachers with an invaluable way to introduce biography and autobiography into the curriculum, as well as graphic literature, giving students the opportunity to craft and create their own personal stories within a similar, illustrated format.

Reviewed by Nathan Wilson
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentically Carving One's Own Path Oct. 9 2011
By ryn76 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Allen Say's books are gems that possess both exquisitely rendered illustrations and memorable narrative. Reading his books together was a substantial and durable thread in the fabric that created our family. Our adult son living in London recently asked for his own copy of "The Lost Lake" -- there are few books that describe a warmer, healthier father-son relationship in the context of wilderness hiking.

Nevertheless, this is a review of "Drawing from Memory" -- Say's moving and inspiring autobiography of his youth and the unlikely, courageous path by which he became a disciplined creative artist. Superlatives fail me. Please read this book, and if you share my views, please encourage every young English-reader you know to read Allen Say's humble story of extraordinary talent, which he self-renews with each new book he authors and illustrates. Say is a role model for building relationships that last and creating works that generate well-being. He has my deepest respect, admiration and gratitude.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars from both the giver and the recipient Dec 19 2011
By K. Bowman S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book, based on the reviews here at Amazon and its place on several Notable Books of 2011 lists, for my 4th grade great-nephew, who is very bright and very artistic. The book is mesmerizing. Before I wrapped it, I read it and was moved by the author's story and his art work. The 4th grader sat reading it after dinner, occasionally interrupting the adults with something he found interesting in the story. And his great-aunt? I sat there watching him get lost in the book, feeling very pleased that I had found something perfect for his Christmas!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming Say Nov. 22 2011
By Catherine W. Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Caldecott winner, Allen Say, describes how he became an artist in this delightful middle grade picture book. A talented artist as a child during World War II, he moved to Tokyo to his grandmother's after the war had ended. His one-room apartment became his studio, and at age 13 he became an artist in Noro Shinpei's cartoon studio. Shinpei was Allen Say's favorite cartoonist and sensei, or master. In 1952, Allen Say left Japan for the United States with his family, burning his drawings and sketchbooks in a bonfire, ready to start a new life, becoming an author and illustrator. Children ages 7-10 will like finding out about this award-winning writer and illustrator.

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