Jan 1, 2012

Drawing From Memory

Drawing From Memory by Allen Say
Illustrated by Allen Say
Published by Scholastic Press

     Allen Say, the Caldecott Medal recipient for Grandfather's Journey, has created a marvelous book in Drawing From Memory. Part graphic novel, memoir, and narrative with a collage of drawing, sketches and photographs, Drawing From Memory is Allen Says first person tale of his journey to become an artist.   
     The narrative focuses on his youth in Japan, living through WWII, and battling his father's disdain for Say's artistic gifts.  He's able to move out and live on his own by the age of twelve and finds his way to become the apprentice of Noro Shinpei, one of Japan's leading cartoonist.  
     Drawing From Memory grabs you from the beginning and won't let you go. It's inspiring, heart-breaking at times, but more than anything else, it's an homage to Allen Say's sensei, Noro Shinpei.  It's a loving letter to the man who became his "spiritual father" as well as a thank you to all the teachers and peers that helped him on his path to become the artist he's today.


  1. I have a lot of students very interested in drawing, so I'll have to take a look. Almost hate to encourage them in the current economic climate, though!

  2. Hi, can i ask you something? I'm looking for children books with "scary" animal illustrations like wolf (or fox) eating pigs (or seven kids or Red Riding hood or birds in Chicken Little) or being pictured with a fat stomach. Have you seen any book of this sort? Any sort of help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Great blog, by the way!


  3. Hi Nelly, I can think of Wolves by Emily Gravet and Jim Who Ran Away From His Nurse and Was Eaten By Lion by Hillaire Belloc, Illustrated by Mini Grey. Hope that helps Nelly!

  4. Thanks for reviewing this, I love Allen Say and have been coveting his latest. I wonder if this talks at all about his multilingual/multicultural heritage? Would that appeal to your ESL students?

  5. Hi Natalia, I've been hearing so much about this book alongside Ed Young's The House that Baba Built - I am definitely intrigued. I'm still waiting for our libraries here to make this book available and I'd be the first to borrow it off from the shelves. :)

  6. Hi Medea, unlike some of his other books, especially Grandfather's Journey and a Tree of Cranes, this one doesn't mention his multicultural background. It focuses on his life in Japan right before he moved to the US. I'm going to share it with my ELLs because they'll identify with a lot of the struggles Say went through before leaving his native country. Aside from the fact that it's just a wonderful example of an autobiography.

  7. Hi Myra, and I will be checking out The House that Baba built!