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The Inker’s Shadow

By: Allen Say

Allen Say recounts his early experiences in America in the 1950s, which involved learning English, a stint at a military school, a '46 Ford, art classes, and trying to understand girls. Author's note, with black-and-white photographs. Full-color and black-and-white illustrations created with watercolors, pen and ink, and pencils.

ISBN: 9780545437769

JLG Release: Nov 2015


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Allen Say (1937- ) , Immigration , United States , Southern California , Military school , High school , Cartoons and comics , Illustrators , Biography , Japanese American artists , Graphic novels , Drawing

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Awards & Honors

Capitol Choices 2016
Bulletin Blue Ribbon 2015, Nonfiction
2016 CCBC Choices–Biography and Autobiography
2015 Cybils Awards Nomination, Young Adult Nonfiction
Best Multicultural Books of 2015
Children’s Book Committee Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of 2016, Biography and Memoir

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books*, Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

In this follow-up to the autobiographical Drawing from Memory (Scholastic, 2011), 15-year-old Japanese immigrant Allen is sent by his father to a California military academy soon after World War II to improve his English and to make something of himself. A variety of adults and a few peers help him move toward his goal of establishing himsel In this follow-up to the autobiographical Drawing from Memory (Scholastic, 2011), 15-year-old Japanese immigrant Allen is sent by his father to a California military academy soon after World War II to improve his English and to make something of himself. A variety of adults and a few peers help him move toward his goal of establishing himself as an artist but are characterized mostly by the inconstant way they slip in and out of his life. His most regular companion is his imaginary alter ego, the cartoon boy Kyusuke, whose creator, Say’s mentor Noro Shinpei, modeled after Say. The storytelling is light and directionless, which helps underscore the veracity of the narrative but prevents the action from building in any dramatic fashion. The book features numerous still ink and watercolor re-creations of the people and places from this era in Say’s development; most are realistic but also feature the sketchbook cartoon style Say employed at the time, particularly when he channels Kyusuke. However, use of actual sequential sequences are minimal, and readers’ abilities to glean details from landscapes, the nuances of character portraits, and the choice of medium or style will determine how much emotional context the illustrations add to the narrative. VERDICT A deceptively simple story, given depth by technically excellent illustrations that require a sophisticated level of visual and cultural literacy to successfully interpret.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH

Horn Book

This “patchwork of memories” (“and memories are unreliable, so I am calling this a work of fiction made of real people and places I knew”) sequel to Drawing from Memory (rev. 9/11) takes the fifteen-year-old Allen to Glendora, California, where he is enrolled in what seems to have been a distinctly mediocre military a This “patchwork of memories” (“and memories are unreliable, so I am calling this a work of fiction made of real people and places I knew”) sequel to Drawing from Memory (rev. 9/11) takes the fifteen-year-old Allen to Glendora, California, where he is enrolled in what seems to have been a distinctly mediocre military academy run by one of his (miserable) father’s old friends. That doesn’t go very well, and Allen soon finds himself, happily, enrolled in a regular high school, taking classes at an art institute in Los Angeles, and working part-time in a printing shop. Throughout, Kyusuke, Allen’s scapegrace comic-strip alter ego created by his revered Sensei, accompanies him in his imagination. Befitting adolescence, the tone here is sometimes sulky, even sarcastic, but, truth be told, Say can be so deadpan that it’s difficult to know when he’s kidding. The illustrations are a pleasing combination of watercolor cartoon panels—neat and nimble executions of the teen’s days—and black-and-white sketches that evoke what he was drawing at the time. Together, the two combine to provide an engaging and thoughtful view of the intersection of art and life. roger sutton

Junior Library Guild

  • An engaging and inspiring portrait of a young artist’s determination to follow his dream.
  • Those who are familiar with Drawing from Memory will be happy to pick up with Allen Say as a fifteen-year-old and learn about the first few years after he moved from Japan to the United States. Also an immigrant and coming-of
    • An engaging and inspiring portrait of a young artist’s determination to follow his dream.
    • Those who are familiar with Drawing from Memory will be happy to pick up with Allen Say as a fifteen-year-old and learn about the first few years after he moved from Japan to the United States. Also an immigrant and coming-of-age narrative, the book stands well on its own and will resonate with a wide range of readers. Say’s teenage years were unique and specific to the time period and place, but his trials, such as learning a new language, facing prejudice, and having a difficult relationship with his father, are universal.
    • Serves as a testament to the positive influence a teacher or other invested adult can have in a young person’s life. In Say’s case, a kind high school principal changed the direction of his experience in the United States: “Yesterday I thought I was going to jail or to sleep in an orange grove. Today I leap four years in my schooling, and maybe have a job! One kind American changed my world.” (Say’s high school art teacher was also hugely supportive and encouraging; in his author’s note, Say says, “I still wonder what my life would have been without [Mr. Nelson Price and Mrs. Laura Swope]. Would I be an artist today?”)
    • The striking images—a combination of paintings, sketches, and cartoons—immerse readers in Say’s world. Throughout, Kyusuke (a popular Japanese-comic character, which Say’s Japanese mentor based on him) appears as Say’s “cartoon double,” acting as a foil and providing levity: “That’s it! Be like Kyusuke! Life’s an adventure!”

Book Details

ISBN

9780545437769

First Release

November 2015

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

741.5/69

Trim Size

8" x 10 1/2"

Page Count

80

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.2; Points: 1;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 4.3; Points: 5;

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Reinforced trade edition

Publisher

Scholastic

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Allen Say (1937- ), Immigration, United States, Southern California, Military school, High school, Cartoons and comics, Illustrators, Biography, Japanese American artists, Graphic novels, Drawing,

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