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Allen Say

Author of Grandfather's Journey

35+ Works 8,578 Members 638 Reviews 3 Favorited

About the Author

Allen Say was born in 1937 in Yokohama, Japan and grew up during the war, attending seven different primary schools amidst the ravages of falling bombs. His parents divorced in the wake of the end of the war and he moved in with his maternal grandmother, with whom he did not get along with. She show more eventually let him move into a one room apartment, and Say began to make his dream of being a cartoonist a reality. He was twelve years old. Say sought out his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei, and begged him to take him on as an apprentice. He spent four years with Shinpei, but at the age of 16 moved to the United States with his father. Say was sent to a military school in Southern California but then expelled a year later. He struck out to see California with a suitcase and twenty dollars. He moved from job to job, city to city, school to school, painting along the way, and finally settled on advertising photography and prospered. Say's first children's book was done in his photo studio, between shooting assignments. It was called "The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice" and was the story of his life with Noro Shinpei. After this, he began to illustrate his own picture books, with writing and illustrating becoming a sort of hobby. While illustrating "The Boy of the Three-year Nap" though, Say suddenly remembered the intense joy I knew as a boy in my master's studio and decided to pursue writing and illustrating full time. Say began publishing books for children in 1968. His early work, consisting mainly of pen-and-ink illustrations for Japanese folktales, was generally well received; however, true success came in 1982 with the publication of The Bicycle Man, based on an incident in Say's life. "The Boy of the Three-Year Nap" published in 1988, and written by Dianne Snyder, was selected as a 1989 Caldecott Honor Book and winner of The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for best picture book. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: By Politics and Prose Bookstore - Cropped from Allen Say-- Drawing From Memory (Children's and Teens' Department), CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34104030


Works by Allen Say

Grandfather's Journey (1993) 2,955 copies
Tea with Milk (1999) 627 copies
The Bicycle Man (1982) 624 copies
Tree of Cranes (1991) 605 copies
The Lost Lake (1900) 535 copies
Drawing from Memory (2011) 507 copies
Emma's Rug (1996) 358 copies
Kamishibai Man (2005) 301 copies
El Chino (1990) 263 copies
A River Dream (1988) 239 copies
The Sign Painter (2000) 172 copies
Allison (1997) 171 copies
The Favorite Daughter (2013) 138 copies
Erika-San (2009) 134 copies
Silent Days, Silent Dreams (2017) 132 copies

Associated Works

How My Parents Learned to Eat (1984) — Illustrator — 933 copies
The Boy of the Three-Year Nap (1988) — Illustrator — 811 copies
The Big Book for Peace (1990) — Illustrator — 798 copies
Magic and the Night River (1812) — Illustrator — 82 copies
The Lucky Yak (1980) — Illustrator — 8 copies


Allen Say (76) art (156) Asia (109) Asian (73) biography (180) Caldecott (191) Caldecott Medal (80) children (111) children's (178) children's books (64) children's literature (98) Christmas (116) collection:Fiction (130) culture (116) diversity (117) easy (78) family (350) fiction (341) food (64) grandfathers (73) grandparents (70) hardcover (74) historical fiction (194) history (108) homesickness (91) immigrants (66) immigration (235) Japan (858) Japanese (123) Japanese Americans (73) memoir (68) multicultural (397) non-fiction (98) peace (86) picture book (890) realistic fiction (172) shelf:Fiction (130) to-read (78) travel (103) WWII (103)

Common Knowledge



EducatingParents.org rating: Approved
Still under review.
MamaBear297 | 244 other reviews | Dec 1, 2023 |
Allen Say's autobiographical account of growing up to become an artist and immigrating to the United States, and dealing with family pressures along the way. It is a very wordy read, filled with his own illustrations and photographs of his life.
LisaSmithMorse | 48 other reviews | Jul 21, 2023 |
First sentence: On his way home, a boy stops by a small house. "Grandma!" he calls from the front steps. "Your door is open!"

Premise/plot: Miss Irwin is a picture book for older readers. Andy is visiting his grandma. The problem? She doesn't remember him. At all. She thinks he's a student, a former student. Miss Irwin used to be a teacher (before she retired). Their visit is bittersweet, in my opinion, and extremely focused on one subject: birds. Still, Andy can't help loving his grandma.

My thoughts: Would I love this one more if it didn't feature birds so dominantly? Maybe. Probably. I love the idea of loving this book. I love seeing depictions of grandchildren and grandparents in fiction. I love books that focus on that relationship. Alzheimer's effects on relationships is depicted in this one. I think it will "hit a chord" so to speak with some readers--perhaps those that have experienced this in their own lives. This is actually one of several books I've read this year that deals with grandparents with Alzheimer's. (The others being middle grade novels.)
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blbooks | Jul 8, 2023 |
this book has beautiful illustrations, and i would use this book when it comes to just a daily read talking about family or water colors. Its about a grandpa who goes and visits the world but when goes to one place he misses the other.
cflores21 | 244 other reviews | Feb 28, 2023 |



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