How cool it would have been to have had an apartment at age twelve. No parents around. All the space just for me.
How cool it would have been to apprentice to one of Japan's top cartoon illustrators. Just go ask him, draw a horse to show my skill, and be accepted. No charge.
How cool it would have been to wander post-World War II Tokyo with newly-made friends, seeing the city and society rebuild. No parental curfew.
In his colorfully illustrated memoir Drawing from Memory, Allen Say makes most of our childhoods seem really dull. Few of us are given such freedom and responsibility at such an early age. He seems to have lived a charmed life at a time when his homeland was challenged to reconstruct. He saw his opportunity to learn from a master and even became the model for a character in a daily newspaper comic. It is a wonderful story, aimed at middle school readers, but it is appropriate for all ages - a kid's book adults will enjoy.
Say, Allen. Drawing from Memory. Scholastic Press, 2011. ISBN 9780545176866.