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Tuesday, February 27, 2018
THE INKER'S SHADOW, Allen Say's memoir-in-pictures of life as a Japanese boy in 1950s California
THE INKER'S SHADOW
$19.99 hardcover, available now
The Publisher Says: Caldecott Medalist, Allen Say, presents a companion to his award-wining DRAWING FROM MEMORY - the story of his coming-of-age at a military academy and the discovery of what it means to be American.
For Allen Say, life as teen in Southern California was a cold existence. His father, one of the leading hamburger salesmen in Japan, ran a booming burger business, much like McDonald's, and sent Allen to an American military academy, so that his son could learn English and "become a success in life."
As the school's first and only Japanese student, he experienced immediate racism among his fellow cadets and his teachers. The other kids' parents complained about Allen's presence at the all-white school. As a result, he was relegated to a tool shed behind the mess hall. Determined to free himself from this oppression, Allen saved enough money to buy a 1946 Ford for $50 - then escaped to find the America of his dreams!
In this follow-up to DRAWING FROM MEMORY, Allen continues to reinvent himself as an author and illustrator. Melding his paintings with cartoon images and archival photos, Allen Say delivers an accessible book that will appeal to any reader in search of himself.
My Review: I don't think this book's full import will come home to you if you don't read Drawing from Memory first.
But I think I'm safe in saying that, once you've read that, you'll more than likely be ready for this one. Author Say came to the US shortly after WWII ended, and to California no less; the country that suffered a major and terrible defeat wasn't exactly the place most Californians were looking to get fresh immigrants from. The racism Author Say suffered was depicted very realistically.
It stuck in my mind, though, and seemed so weird to me. Seeing the realities of the situation presented from the sufferer's point of view was disturbing to my old-man self. All the casual dismissive racism. All the actively cruel racism. All of that hate stewing in the hearts of people. Why ever use so much strength to wish hurt and harm on those who've done nothing to you?
I'm human, I don't have to make sense.
How lucky for us all that Author Allen Say left home as a teenaged boy. Japan's treasure became ours.