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2011 Award
Drawing from Memory
( by Allen Say, Scholastic $17.99 Score: )

Caldecott winner, Allen Say has often created stunningly beautiful auto-biographical picture books about his childhood in Japan. His paintings in books such as Grandfather's Journey, Tree of Cranes, and Tea with Milk, among others, are memorable works of great beauty. Though his stories are always about children, often the stories are more adult than not. Now, with Drawing from Memory, Say tells us the story of how he became an artist. In the telling, we really do get to meet the school-aged boy who was single minded from the start about his dream of becoming the gifted artist that he is. Instead of the double page paintings that grace his picture books, the illustrations here are mostly small drawings, sketches, pen and ink drawings, cartoon frames and photographs. The story is told in the first person and Say comes across with a warmth and sense of humor that had to sustain him through some personally difficult times. Although this is marked for 10 and up, it is a moving story that middle school and even high school students, with aspirations in the arts, will find engaging. It is heartening to find a book where a young person recognizes how important the adults in his life were to him. So often in children's books we do not see the strong positive influence of adults portrayed. In fact the parents are often disposed of on page one. Here the reader learns that although Say's father was not there for him, the void was filled by a very significant other. It is a story that will speak not just to aspiring artists but children struggling with estranged parents and their own feelings. A gem!

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Review Published: Click here to purchase the product on

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