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by Allen Say

illustrated by Allen Say


School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ 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-20 -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 –Allison Tran (Reviewed September 1, 2011) (School Library Journal, vol 57, issue 9, p184)


  • ALA Notable Children’s Books – Older Readers Category: 2012
  • Notable Books for a Global Society: 2012
  • Oregon Book  Awards: Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature
  • School Library Journal Best Nonfiction Books: 2011


10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, Ages 9-12, Autobiography, Graphic Novel