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Drawing From Memory by Allen Say
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Drawing From Memory

by Allen Say

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Mesmerizing autobiography of the artist Allen Say. His pictures and descriptions are in perfect harmony. A quick read, leaving the reader to ponder our own life's journey and destiny. ( )
  Mad.River.Librarian | Apr 23, 2014 |
Drawing from Memory is the memoir of artist Allen Say and his journey to becoming an artist. The artwork in this book is paired with photographs from Say's childhood, creating an interesting juxtaposition between Say's representation of his world and the reality shown in the photographs.
  Jen4k | Mar 12, 2014 |
One of the most interesting things that I learned about Allen Say was that he burnt all of his drawing notebooks when he left Japan.

Allen Say grew up in a family that didn't enjoy Allen's artwork. His mother supported him a bit, but his father disapproved of it. When Allen grew older, his father left his mother. Allen and his sister went to live with his grandmother who didn't like Allen. After a while of living together, Allen's mother paid for Allen to go to school. They shipped him off to school. He had an apartment in Tokyo, and lived alone when he was only thirteen. Still loving art, he wanted to become an apprentice of Noro Shinpei, who was a great cartoonist. There Allen practiced art with Noro Shinpei's other apprentice, and eventually he became a well-known artist in America.

I liked reading about Allen Say, because he is an artist, and I'm one too. I don't understand why he burnt all of his notebooks when he left Japan. Maybe it was done to create more space, or done to please his father when he arrived in America. ( )
  k8lovesbooks | Jan 19, 2014 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 3-8

Plot Summary: Allen Say was taught to read from a very young age so that he wouldn't get into trouble out of the house. It worked: he became addicted to comic strips and started drawing himself. As he got older, he continued to draw, although his father always told him it was not a respectable hobby or career. Then his father left for the war and Allen, his mom, and his sister moved to a new city to live with Allen's uncle. Allen continued to draw in secret and found a teacher, Mrs. Morita, that encouraged him. At age 11, Allen moved in with his Grandmother, who agreed with Allen's father about art. He studied hard, and even harder when he was promised his own apartment if he got accepted into a prestigious school. He worked hard and moved into his own apartment in Tokyo when he was almost 13 years old. He planned to make the apartment his art studio and on his first dinner out, he discovered the story of another boy who ran away from home because he wanted to be an artist. Allen's favorite cartoonist took on the boy as a student. Allen found the man's studio and asked if he could also be a student. Thankfully, Noro Shinpei said yes. They three of them worked together for years, and eventually Allen told his mother, who told his grandmother, about his art. He and Tokida became friends, although they didn't agree on the strikes about injustice happening in Tokyo. When Allen was offered a ticket to the US by his absent father, he couldn't decide what to do. Should he stay and continue to work with his cartoonist hero who has taught him so much? Or start over and find new opportunities in the US, but risk dealing with his dad's hate for art?

Setting: Japan: born in Yokohama, moves to Sasebo, gets apartment in Tokyo

Characters:
Allen Say - AKA Kiyoi, studied hard and worked hard on his art
Tokida - 15 y/o,
Noro Shinpei - one of the most famous cartoonists in Japan, took on Tokida as a student

Recurring Themes: Japan, autobiography, cartoons, artist, independence, studying, school exams, divorce, injustice, strikes, practicing

Controversial Issues: goes to a life drawing class and see some butt-cheeks and breasts from the side/back

Personal Thoughts: I thought this was really well-written. I loved the art work, cartoons, and photos that accompanied the text. It did read similar to a graphic novel, although it doesn't have any speech bubbles or frames. I liked the little tidbits details that were included, but they left me wanting more. I especially want to know why he decided to burn his sketchbooks before going to the US. And what happened when he arrived in the US? Did he have to live with his dad? How did he become successful? I hope he continues the story.

Genre: Autobiography

Pacing: fast because of the format and the selective detail
Characters: certain people were more memorable than others as you were reading the story, there were good photos of everyone along the way
Frame: WWII in Japan is surprisingly not described at all
Storyline:

Activity: art, decorate your own apartment

Quote: pg 37 "Drawing is never a practice. To draw is to see and discover. Every time you draw, you discover something new." ( )
  pigeonlover | Jan 15, 2014 |
Award winning author and artist, Allen Say, recounts his childhood in Japan. 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". ( )
  storyLines | Jan 5, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0545176867, Hardcover)

Caldecott Medalist Allen Say presents a stunning graphic novel chronicling his journey as an artist during WWII, when he apprenticed under Noro Shinpei, Japan’s premier cartoonist

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 WWII 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:02 -0400)

"Caldecott Medalist Allen Say presents a stunning graphic novel chronicling his journey as an artist during WWII, when he apprenticed under Noro Shinpei, Japan's premier cartoonistDRAWING 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 WWII 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"--… (more)

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