When he was a young man, Allen Say's grandfather left his home in Japan to explore the world. He began his journey by crossing the Pacific Ocean on a steamship, then wandered the deserts, farmlands, and cities of North America. Allen Say lovingly tells the story of his own family's cross-cultural history in elegant watercolor paintings that earned him a Caldecott Medal in 1994. This twentieth-anniversary gift edition of the modern classic features downloadable audio and an introduction by Allen Say.
As a young man, Say's grandfather travels throughout America, eventually returning to Japan. Say, who lived in California when he wrote this book, finds "the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other. I think know my grandfather now." The immigrant experience has rarely been so poignantly evoked as it is in this narrative, accompanied by soft-toned watercolors. This edition includes a one-page introduction by the author.
Say's grandfather travels throughout North America as a young man but, unable to forget his homeland, returns to Japan with his family, where the author is born. Say now lives in California and returns to his native land from time to time. "The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other. I think I know my grandfather now." The immigrant experience has rarely been so poignantly evoked as it is in this direct, lyrical narrative, accompanied by soft-toned watercolors.
"The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other," observes Say near the end of this poignant account of three generations of his family's moves between Japan and the US. Say's grandfather came here as a young man, married, and lived in San Francisco until his daughter was "nearly grown" before returning to Japan; his treasured plan to visit the US once again was delayed, forever as it turned out, by WW II. Say's American-born mother married in Japan (cf. Tree of Cranes, 1991), while he, born in Yokohama, came here at 16. In lucid, graceful language, he chronicles these passages, reflecting his love of both countries--plus the expatriate's ever-present longing for home--in both simple text and exquisitely composed watercolors: scenes of his grandfather discovering his new country and returning with new appreciation to the old, and pensive portraits recalling family photos, including two evoking the war and its aftermath. Lovely, quiet--with a tenderness and warmth new to this fine illustrator's work.
Say transcends the achievements of his Tree of Cranes and A River Dream with this breathtaking picture book, at once a very personal tribute to his grandfather and a distillation of universally shared emotions. Elegantly honed text accompanies large, formally composed paintings to convey Say's family history; the sepia tones and delicately faded colors of the art suggest a much-cherished and carefully preserved family album. A portrait of Say's grandfather opens the book, showing him in traditional Japanese dress, ``a young man when he left his home in Japan and went to see the world.'' Crossing the Pacific on a steamship, he arrives in North America and explores the land by train, by riverboat and on foot. One especially arresting, light-washed painting presents Grandfather in shirtsleeves, vest and tie, holding his suit jacket under his arm as he gazes over a prairie: ``The endless farm fields reminded him of the ocean he had crossed.'' Grandfather discovers that ``the more he traveled, the more he longed to see new places,'' but he nevertheless returns home to marry his childhood sweetheart. He brings her to California, where their daughter is born, but her youth reminds him inexorably of his own, and when she is nearly grown, he takes the family back to Japan. The restlessness endures: the daughter cannot be at home in a Japanese village; he himself cannot forget California. Although war shatters Grandfather's hopes to revisit his second land, years later Say repeats the journey: ``I came to love the land my grandfather had loved, and I stayed on and on until I had a daughter of my own.'' The internal struggle of his grandfather also continues within Say, who writes that he, too, misses the places of his childhood and periodically returns to them. The tranquility of the art and the powerfully controlled prose underscore the profundity of Say's themes, investing the final line with an abiding, aching pathos: ``The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.'' Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
Gr 3 Up-A personal history of three generations of the author's family that points out the emotions that are common to the immigrant experience. Splendid, photoreal watercolors have the look of formal family portraits or candid snapshots, all set against idyllic landscapes in Japan and in the U.S. (Sept., 1993)