Allison

Allison

3.0 8
by Allen Say
     
 

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When Allison's parents explain to her that she is adopted, her world becomes an uncomfortable place. She wonders why she was given up, what her real name is, and whether other children have parents in far away countries. Allison's doll becomes her only solace until she finds a stray cat in the garden and learns the true meaning of adoption and parental love. "A subtle

Overview

When Allison's parents explain to her that she is adopted, her world becomes an uncomfortable place. She wonders why she was given up, what her real name is, and whether other children have parents in far away countries. Allison's doll becomes her only solace until she finds a stray cat in the garden and learns the true meaning of adoption and parental love. "A subtle, sensitive probing of interracial adoption, this exquisitely illustrated story will encourage thoughtful adult-child dialogue on a potentially difficult issue." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW said, "A subtle, sensitive probing of interracial adoption, this exquisitely illustrated story will encourage thoughtful adult-child dialogue on a potentially difficult issue." Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A deep-gold jacket serves as a portrait frame for the title character's two pivotal moments in this penetrating picture book about a young girl who learns to accept her adopted family. The cover image shows Allison wearing a kimonoa gift from Grandmotherjust like that worn by her doll Mei Mei; when the child stares into the mirror, she smiles to see that she and Mei Mei look very much alike, but when she sees her American mother and father, "her smile disappeared." Caldecott Medalist Say's (Grandfather's Journey) watercolors externalize Allison's inner landscape, a beige and neutral world in which she provides the only relief. The photographic quality of the art underscores Say's realistic treatment of his delicate subject (e.g., Allison's angry face after she shears the dolls whose "hair wasn't like Mei Mei's," an empty picture hook on the wall behind her). Cleverly, Say uses a stray cat that Allison wants to adopt to help her come to terms with her anger as she realizes everyone needs a family. A subtle, sensitive probing of interracial adoption, this exquisitely illustrated story will encourage thoughtful adult-child dialogue on a potentially difficult issue. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3As he did in Stranger in the Mirror (Houghton, 1995), Say uses a glimpsed reflection to probe the ramifications of recognition. In the earlier title, the subject was aging; here, Say turns to adoption. When readers first encounter Allison, she is opening a package containing a red kimono just like the one worn by her doll. The whole family faces a mirror for her to see herself in her new garment, and she sees that her doll's hair is "straight and dark like hers." When she realizes that she does not look like her mother or father, her smile fades. Questions about the doll's origin lead to the discovery of her adoption. What follows are some lonely scenes as Allison watches the families at daycare and as she destroys her mother's childhood doll and father's baseball and glove. It is finally the "adoption" of a stray cat, whose appearances frame the story, that helps Allison understand and appreciate her family. While Say's watercolors are powerfulthe skill with which he captures determination and longing in the muscles surrounding Allison's mouth, for exampleand her anger is a believable reaction, the conclusion is abrupt and somewhat contrived. One can't help wondering, too, why Allison don't already know about her past if she is surrounded by cultural reminders and why her parents don't respond to her pain with immediate physical and verbal warmth and comfort. The compelling artwork will surely attract attention.. However, for first choices that combine honesty with reassurance, try Karen Katz's Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale (Holt, 1997) or Fred Rogers's Lets Talk About It: Adoption (Putnam, 1995).Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
New York Times Book Review
A Caldecott medalist illustrator, who has been concerned with problems of identity in several books, here turns to one of the thorns of adoption. Allison realizes that she does not look like her parents but rather like her doll, Mei Mei. -- New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Say's trademark nuanced and limpid watercolors convey and complete the emotional resonance of this adoption story.

When Allison's grandmother sends her a kimono and Allison tries it on, she sees that she resembles her doll, Mei Mei, more than she resembles her parents. Allison is terrified and unsatisfied by her parents' explanation (in a conversation that sounds as if the subject has never been broached) that her birth parents couldn't keep her, and that they brought her home (with Mei Mei) from another country. She withdraws from her playmates and her family, and then lashes out by destroying her mother and father's cherished possessions from childhood. A stray cat who has been hanging around their house provides Allison with another—albeit unstated—view of adoption and she cheers up enough to rejoin her family. Say masterfully captures Allison's expressions: She is surprised, wounded, sullen, hurt and hurtful, and finally reassured. He addresses the dark side of an adoptive child's feelings carefully, and while the resolution is a bit convenient (and may require interpretation for younger children), it still carries truth.

From the Publisher

"A subtle, sensitive probing of interracial adoption, this exquisitely illustrated story will encourage thoughtful adult-child dialogue on a potentially difficult issue." Publishers Weekly, Starred

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395858950
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
10/28/1997
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.75(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.13(d)
Lexile:
430L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Allen Say was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1937. He dreamed of becoming a cartoonist from the age of six, and, at age twelve, apprenticed himself to his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei. For the next four years, Say learned to draw and paint under the direction of Noro, who has remained Say's mentor. Say illustrated his first children's book -- published in 1972 -- in a photo studio between shooting assignments. For years, Say continued writing and illustrating children's books on a part-time basis. But in 1987, while illustrating THE BOY OF THE THREE-YEAR NAP (Caldecott Honor Medal), he recaptured the joy he had known as a boy working in his master's studio. It was then that Say decided to make a full commitment to doing what he loves best: writing and illustrating children's books. Since then, he has written and illustrated many books, including TREE OF CRANES and GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY, winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal. He is a full-time writer and illustrator living in Portland, Oregon.

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Allison 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"LEAVE!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"No." ((Sorry wifi stopped.))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Okay..." I go back to pumping you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good mornin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Adoptive families with Asian children will find irresistable the stunning artwork in this book. Adoptees may initially 'see themselves' in the plight of stray animals, but that does not mean it is appropriate to encourage. Sooner or later we realize it's demeaning. Well-meaning parents may be led 'astray' by the quality of this art. It disturbs me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'd definitely give this one a miss. There are plenty of really good adoption stories for kids. The idea of being compared to a stray cat doesn't appeal to me and I don't believe it would appeal to most adopted children.