Friday, January 13, 2012

Grandfather's Journey [and] Tree of Cranes by Allen Say

I have checked out and read more books by Allen Say, having enjoyed Drawing from Memory, and am glad that I did. Grandfather's Journey and Tree of Cranes illustrate other parts of Say's family story.

Grandfather's Journey tells how his grandfather immigrated from Japan to California to live in the San Francisco area with ready access to many beautiful places. He marries his childhood sweetheart and brings her to America, and they have a daughter. As he ages, he longs to see his homeland again and returns to Japan with his family. Though the story is sketchy, the illustrations give it depth. Each is filled with calm beauty.

The daughter in the first book is the mother in Tree of Cranes. Having grown up in California, she misses its celebration of Christmas, which is not celebrated in 1930s Japan. Say is just a boy. He watches with wonder as she decorates a small evergreen with origami cranes. Say illustrates the warmth of his home against the cold of Japanese winter.

Both books foster respect for family and people of different origins, and adults may enjoy them for the colorful landscapes and portraits. Look for them with other picture books at your library.

Say, Allen. Tree of Cranes. Houghton Mifflin, 1991. ISBN 039552024x.

Say, Allen. Grandfather's Journey. Houghton Mifflin, 1993. ISBN 0395570352.

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