Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Grandfather's Journey
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Grandfather's Journey

4.2 36
by Allen Say

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Lyrical, breathtaking, splendid—words used to describe Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey when it was first published. At once deeply personal yet expressing universally held emotions, this tale of one man’s love for two countries and his constant desire to be in both places captured readers’ attention and hearts. Winner of the 1994


Lyrical, breathtaking, splendid—words used to describe Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey when it was first published. At once deeply personal yet expressing universally held emotions, this tale of one man’s love for two countries and his constant desire to be in both places captured readers’ attention and hearts. Winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal, it remains as historically relevant and emotionally engaging as ever.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The immigrant experience has rarely been so poignantly evoked.
Horn Book, Starred
Barnes & Noble Staff
This autobiographical reminiscence describes the wanderlust of the author's grandfather, who is torn between love for his native Japan and for California. Missing one place while in the other, the grandfather is always longing to be where he isn't. The grandson inherits his grandfather's love of travel, and like him, longs to be in both places at the same time. Soft-hued paintings decorate this quiet testament of love for both family and place.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Say transcends the achievements of his Tree of Cranes and A River Dream with this breathtaking picture book, at once a very personal tribute to his grandfather and a distillation of universally shared emotions. Elegantly honed text accompanies large, formally composed paintings to convey Say's family history; the sepia tones and delicately faded colors of the art suggest a much-cherished and carefully preserved family album. A portrait of Say's grandfather opens the book, showing him in traditional Japanese dress, ``a young man when he left his home in Japan and went to see the world.'' Crossing the Pacific on a steamship, he arrives in North America and explores the land by train, by riverboat and on foot. One especially arresting, light-washed painting presents Grandfather in shirtsleeves, vest and tie, holding his suit jacket under his arm as he gazes over a prairie: ``The endless farm fields reminded him of the ocean he had crossed.'' Grandfather discovers that ``the more he traveled, the more he longed to see new places,'' but he nevertheless returns home to marry his childhood sweetheart. He brings her to California, where their daughter is born, but her youth reminds him inexorably of his own, and when she is nearly grown, he takes the family back to Japan. The restlessness endures: the daughter cannot be at home in a Japanese village; he himself cannot forget California. Although war shatters Grandfather's hopes to revisit his second land, years later Say repeats the journey: ``I came to love the land my grandfather had loved, and I stayed on and on until I had a daughter of my own.'' The internal struggle of his grandfather also continues within Say, who writes that he, too, misses the places of his childhood and periodically returns to them. The tranquility of the art and the powerfully controlled prose underscore the profundity of Say's themes, investing the final line with an abiding, aching pathos: ``The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.'' Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-A personal history of three generations of the author's family that points out the emotions that are common to the immigrant experience. Splendid, photoreal watercolors have the look of formal family portraits or candid snapshots, all set against idyllic landscapes in Japan and in the U.S. (Sept., 1993)
Children's Literature - Joan Kindig
Grandfather's Journey is a magnificent book about the protagonist's grandfather who leaves Japan to come to America as a young man. He remains in America where he builds his life and has a family but all the while he is thinking about and remembering all he left behind in Japan. When his daughter is grown, he takes the family back to Japan and he loves being back in the land of his birth. But all the while he is there he is thinking about and remembering the beauty of the mountains surrounding San Francisco and his life back in the United States. He will forever have his heart in two different places and never feel entirely at home in either place. The illustrations are superb and the book was recognized with a Caldecott Medal in 2009. B.D. Wong, widely known as Dr. George Huang on the television show Law & Order: SVU, narrates the story with all the quiet beauty the story deserves. An interview with the author/illustrator is included. While officially the age range is ages five to eight, I find this book is suited to an older crowd from about 3rd grade and up. It is even useful in middle and high school classrooms when discussing immigration. Reviewer: Joan Kindig, Ph.D.
Children's Literature - Loretta Caravette
A beautifully illustrated picture book comes to life on DVD. With tasteful music and gentle narration, the story of Grandfather's journey to America from Japan takes flight. The emotional connection Grandfather has toward his homeland and to this new country is evident in the illustrations. The original illustrations from the book are used on the DVD. However, their use is enhanced as the camera focuses on one aspect of the drawing or layers image over image of the majestic mountains or slowly reveals the sea of grain Grandfather is walking through. The narration makes the visual selection even more poignant. The DVD follows the story faithfully. We follow the Grandfather's journey, but are also privy to the journey of the daughter and then of the daughter's son, who is telling the story. The watercolor illustrations show the cultural differences and yet the similar style of painting keeps the new generation connected to the past. The DVD enhances the experience of the picture book and at the end leaves a lasting impression of love and family and appreciation for home. The DVD is a great way to introduce ancestry to older children who might find the notion of a picture book off putting. Guided Reading Level: N. Reviewer: Loretta Caravette

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 11.30(h) x 0.20(d)
AD650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"The immigrant experience has rarely been so poignantly evoked as it is in this direct, lyrical narrative that is able to stir emotions through the sheer simplicity of its telling." Horn Book, Starred

Library Media Connection

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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