Reviews for Drawing from Memory

Booklist Reviews 2011 August #1
"*Starred Review* Say, a Caldecott Medal-winning picture-book creator, returns to his most fertile ground--true life--to tell the story of how he became an artist. He began living alone when he was 12, paying a little attention to schoolwork and a lot of attention to drawing, a pursuit that flourished under the mentorship of his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei. His narrative is fascinating, winding through formative early-teen experiences in Japan as he honed his skills and opened his eyes to the greater world around him. This heavily illustrated autobiography features Say's characteristically strong artwork. The visually stunning sequences include a standout scene in which the young artist and a friend stumble upon a massive demonstration, which is depicted as a huge crowd of people that snakes down one page and is stopped short by a brick wall of police on the next. The scrapbook format features photographs, many of them dim with age; sketchbook drawings; and unordered, comic-book-style panels that float around wide swathes of text and unboxed captions, and the overall effect is sometimes disjointed. Still, as a portrait of a young artist, this is a powerful title that is both culturally and personally resonant." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
This rendering of Say's adolescence--a coming-of-age story within the context of a long life and vocation--takes the form of an album, with text, photographs, drawings, and paintings. At the center of the book is Say's relationship with Noro Shinpei, a popular cartoonist who took Say on as an apprentice at thirteen. Throughout the volume, content is reinforced through canny artistic choices and harmonious design. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #5
Covering roughly the same period as the artist's autobiographical novel The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice (rev. 6/79), this rendering of Say's adolescence takes the form of an album, with text, photographs, drawings, and paintings all enlisted to convey events. At the center of the book, as before, is Say's relationship with his sensei, Noro Shinpei, a popular cartoonist in postwar Japan who took Say on as an apprentice when the boy was only thirteen. Say includes several of his teacher's cartoons in this book, which is harmoniously designed to allow the great variety of images room to work together without crowding. For example, in a sequence illustrating the riot in which Say and fellow student Tokida find themselves, a tidy ink-and-watercolor sketch of the orderly student demonstration is followed by an ominous painting, all blacks and grays, of the waiting police, with a concluding gestural ink sketch of the clash between the two groups. Throughout, you can see canny artistic choices being made -- color here, monochrome there, a cartoon, a snapshot -- that reinforce content with appropriate form. Where The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice was an intense and often gritty portrait of an awakening artist, Drawing from Memory is more discreet and rather more recollected in tranquility, placing a coming-of-age story within the context of a long life and vocation. roger sutton Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 July #2

Exquisite drawings, paintings, comics and photographs balance each other perfectly as they illustrate Say's childhood path to becoming an artist.

Although its story overlaps with The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice (1979), this visual chronicle is a fresh new wonder. It opens with a soft watercolor map of Japan on the left, framed in a rectangle, while on the right is a delicate, full-bleed watercolor of Yokohama's seashore and fishing village, with two black-and-white photographs pasted on: Say as a child, and the stone beach wall. The early arc takes readers from Say's 1937 birth, through family moves to escape 1941 bombings and then Say's nigh-emancipation at age 12, when his mother supported him in his own Tokyo apartment. The one-room apartment "was for me to study in, but studying was far from my mind... this was going to be my art studio!" The art table's drawer handle resembles a smile. Happily apprenticing with famous cartoonist Noro Shinpei, Say works dedicatedly on comic panels, still-lifes and life drawing. Nothing—not political unrest, not U.S. occupation, not paternal disapproval—derails his singular goal of becoming a cartoonist. Shinpei's original comics are reproduced here, harmonizing with Say's own art from that time and the graphic-novel–style panels, drawings and paintings created for this book.

Aesthetically superb; this will fascinate comics readers and budding artists while creating new Say fans. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 10 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 June #3

Retooling some of the material in his autobiographical middle-grade novel The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice (1994), Say tells the story of his decidedly nontraditional Japanese upbringing, supplying watercolors, photographs, and humorous sketches to create a vivid record of life in postwar Tokyo. Say's family rented him his own apartment when he was 12 so he could attend a better school. "The one-room apartment was for me to study in," he writes, beneath a b&w sketch of his desk, "but studying was far from my mind... this was going to be my art studio!" (A second drawing, in color, shows his conception of the perfect desk, covered with paints and brushes.) Japan's most famous cartoonist, Noro Shinpei, accepted Say as an apprentice until Say immigrated to the United States in 1953. Say's account of his relationship with Noro (who later called Say "the treasure of my life") is the centerpiece of the narrative. As the story of a young artist's coming of age, Say's account is complex, poignant, and unfailingly honest. Say's fans--and those who also feel the pull of the artist's life--will be captivated. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 September

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-20th-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

[Page 184]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2011 December
Say, an award-winning author and illustrator of juvenile literature, has created in this memoir a beautiful tribute to his sensei, Japanese for "teacher" or "master." Taught to read at an early age, Say loved comic books, which inspired a passion for drawing: "When I was drawing, I was happy. I didn't need toys or friends or parents." His father, however, had a low regard for artists. At age twelve, Say was sent to live with his maternal grandmother in Tokyo. Used to living alone, his grandmother had little patience for her artistic grandson. He studied and gained admittance into a prestigious middle school, and with his grandmother's blessing, he moved into his own apartment. That night, he read a newspaper article about a boy, an apprentice to the famous Japanese cartoonist Noro Shinpei. Say writes of Shinpei, "His books were my secret treasures I hid from my parents." The article set Say on the path to realizing his dream of becoming an artist and into a relationship of mutual respect and admiration Say's autobiographical story introduces readers to Japanese culture of the 1940s and 50s. Teens will envy the extreme independence accorded to Say at such an early age. The mixture of text, sketches, and photographs illustrates Say's development as an artist and provides a glimpse into his youth and the lives of those closest to him. This book is sure to appeal to reluctant readers. Its brief text and plentiful graphics make it a quick but fulfilling read, and leave the reader wanting more.--Jeanine Fox Illus. Photos. Author's Note. 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.