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Drawing from Memory

by Allen Say

Publishers Weekly Retooling some of the material in his autobiographical middle-grade novel The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice (1994), Say tells the story of his decidedly nontraditional Japanese upbringing, supplying watercolors, photographs, and humorous sketches to create a vivid record of life in postwar Tokyo. Say's family rented him his own apartment when he was 12 so he could attend a better school. "The one-room apartment was for me to study in," he writes, beneath a b&w sketch of his desk, "but studying was far from my mind... this was going to be my art studio!" (A second drawing, in color, shows his conception of the perfect desk, covered with paints and brushes.) Japan's most famous cartoonist, Noro Shinpei, accepted Say as an apprentice until Say immigrated to the United States in 1953. Say's account of his relationship with Noro (who later called Say "the treasure of my life") is the centerpiece of the narrative. As the story of a young artist's coming of age, Say's account is complex, poignant, and unfailingly honest. Say's fans-and those who also feel the pull of the artist's life-will be captivated. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4 Up-Say traces his lifelong love of comics and tells of those who disparaged and those who nurtured his talents, including one of Japan's most famous cartoonists who became his mentor and spiritual father. This captivating and seamless melding of words and brilliant pictures provides the lens of memory and inspiration. (Sept.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 4 Up-Say tells the story of how he became an artist through a vibrant blend of words and images. Beginning with his boyhood in World War II-era Japan, he traces his life-changing relationship with Noro Shinpei, an illustrious cartoonist who became his surrogate father figure and art mentor. Illustrations are richly detailed and infused with warmth. Exquisite use of light makes night scenes glow, and the mid-20th-century Tokyo setting is captured with vivid authenticity. A variety of media and artistic styles, including full-color paintings, black-and-white sketches, photographs, and comic-book panels, adds texture and depth to the narrative. Fans of the artist's work will take particular delight in seeing sketches from his student days. Simple, straightforward sentences and a conversational narration in combination with a wealth of images will appeal to aspiring artists and reluctant readers alike. This book covers much of the same material as Say's autobiographical novel, The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice (Harper & Row, 1979), but the lively mix of art and text will draw in a new generation and a slightly younger audience. The somewhat abrupt ending, with Say moving to the United States, may leave readers wishing for a more extended epilogue or sequel, but that is simply because his story is so engaging. Readers of all ages will be inspired by the young Say's drive and determination that set him on a successful career path.-Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Say, a Caldecott Medal-winning picture-book creator, returns to his most fertile ground true life to tell the story of how he became an artist. He began living alone when he was 12, paying a little attention to schoolwork and a lot of attention to drawing, a pursuit that flourished under the mentorship of his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei. His narrative is fascinating, winding through formative early-teen experiences in Japan as he honed his skills and opened his eyes to the greater world around him. This heavily illustrated autobiography features Say's characteristically strong artwork. The visually stunning sequences include a standout scene in which the young artist and a friend stumble upon a massive demonstration, which is depicted as a huge crowd of people that snakes down one page and is stopped short by a brick wall of police on the next. The scrapbook format features photographs, many of them dim with age; sketchbook drawings; and unordered, comic-book-style panels that float around wide swathes of text and unboxed captions, and the overall effect is sometimes disjointed. Still, as a portrait of a young artist, this is a powerful title that is both culturally and personally resonant.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.