The single figure on the book cover to DRAWING FROM MEMORY by Caldecott Medal winner Allen Say shows a young man floating up – uplifted. When twelve year old Allen Say moves away from his family to a single room apartment to study, he feels liberated. Say draws himself rising up into his “new life” – freedom to learn and express. Not encouraged at home, Say pursues his deep desire to draw.
On his own initiative he approaches Noro Shinpei to be his teacher. Under Japan’s popular cartoonist’s tutelage for three years, Say grows and learns from the grand Sensei. After having very little contact with his father, he accepts the unexpected offer of a trip to America, a greater adventure that begins another new life. Written and “drawing from memory” of Say’s younger years, this book is a sensitive and inspiring story, describing his tenacious art drive. The combination of his drawings, old photographs, and graphic cartoons work well with Say’s narration. These three pictorial depiction types aid the reader in understanding his life’s events. Those years help mold him into the accomplished illustrator, artist, and writer of all his 18 children’s books.
In the Author’s Note, Say adds the personal story of Noro Shinpei and their close relationship. The title, DRAWING FROM MEMORY, is a play on words as Say dug deep into his memory of the man who took him “under his wing” and dedicated this autobiography to his mentor. Age 10 and up.
Recommended by Cecile Wong, Librarian (retired), Maryland USA