Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Drawing from Memory” as Want to Read:
Drawing from Memory
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Drawing from Memory

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  40,902 ratings  ·  415 reviews
Caldecott Medalist Allen Say presents a stunning graphic novel chronicling his journey as an artist during WWII, when he apprenticed under Noro Shinpei, Japan’s premier cartoonist

DRAWING FROM MEMORY is Allen Say's own story of his path to becoming the renowned artist he is today. Shunned by his father, who didn't understand his son's artistic leanings, Allen was embraced b

Hardcover, 64 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Scholastic Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  40,902 ratings  ·  415 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Drawing from Memory
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
I’ve read two of this author-illustrator’s books and have a fourth at home to read, and I really enjoyed the two books I read/viewed, so I was eager to read this book, an autobiography. I can’t imagine that I’ll like any other of his books better than I liked this one.

This book is marvelous, resplendent, and really special. I have no adequate words to do it justice.

The last line almost got me crying with emotion but the entire book was superb.

It’s a completely absorbing life story, a wonderful
Richard Derus
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5* of five

Allen Say's world doesn't exist anymore. This is the roughest part of getting truly old. The kind of universe where a twelve-year-old boy could be thought capable of living on his own is long gone. The kind of world where the famous cartoonist could be reached by the simple expedient of showing up at his place of work and saying, "I'd like to work for you," well! Need I belabor the point? Say wrote this book in a world that could be on a different planet than the one he grew up
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Allen Say fans
Recommended to Hilary by: Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan
An amazing account of the life of such a talented artist. This is a very inspirational read and the perfect example of following your dreams and not letting others dissuade you from doing what you know is right for you.

So many wonderful illustrations, touching stories, photographs and memories. This was also an interesting look into life in Japan over the last century, I love looking at old photographs and these were wonderful, family photographs and a photo of Tokyo with only one or two cars ab
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This unassuming-in-appearance book left a really good impression on me. It is something of an autobiographical collage; photographs, drawing and sketches from both the author-artist as well as the work of his mentor are combined with straightforward and still somehow haunting text. Say tells the reader about his memories of his early life in Japan. This is not a boring formulaic biography. Say gives us just glimpses into his life, but they are powerful images of important captured moments of a b ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Allen Say (who knew his real name is Sei?) writes here of his boyhood in Japan, from his birth in 1937, through World War II, his parents' divorce, and going to school to study while living in a rented studio apartment of his own. (I have to say I envy him having his own place at the age of 12! What I wouldn't have given for that when I was that age.) In reading biographies of other illustrators and artists, I've noticed that they all seem to say the same thing--they feel at peace drawing, they ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lovely memoir of a guy who became a comic book artist as a kid, got lucky enough to work (as a teenager!) with with one of the greatest comic book artists of all time in Japan, and the memoir becomes a tribute to the Master... Say becomes a Caldecott Medal winning illustrator for Grandfather's Journey, has done many kid books... So now I need to read some of them! ...more
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012-13
Why have I waited so long to read this book. I've had it in my "pile" for quite some time and there are several Allen Say books that I have enjoyed over the years (including the Caldecott award winner GRANDFATHER's JOURNEY). I guess I just thought it would be more of a typical narrative autobiography, but I am finding that it is anything but! And Say's early life is amazing! I can't wait to read more!!! (But it's back to more pressing work for a few more moments this morning. I will see how long ...more
Although this is a book filled of memories (and well put together), I did have a hard time feeling passionate for the lads life. The thing is is that, I don't know anything about Japanese cartoonists. It was an interesting tale, but the author's intentions to try to inspire future cartoonists didn't really work. Not everyone's life gives them openings to just walk into an office and say "I want to be a cartoonist". There was no REAL strive and struggle to get the peaceful and fulfilling life tha ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Allen Say Fans / Readers Looking for Good Biographies for Middle-Grade Children
Celebrated Japanese-American children's artist Allen Say, who won the Caldecott Medal for Grandfather's Journey , a picture-book exploring his family's complicated history moving back and forth between Japan and the United States through the generations, chronicles his own youth and coming of age as an artist in this graphic novel/picture-book autobiography for young readers. Born in 1937 near Yokohama, Japan, Say was still a young child during WWII, and evacuated to a small village with his ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I first saw books by Allen Say, I was subbing in a 3rd grade class where they were just beginning author studies. There were books by Tomie de Paola, Jan Brett, and several other authors, either with their own illustrations or illustrated by different artists. I took a look at the Say books and wondered if any of the students would choose those books, because they were so dull compared to the bright colors of the other books. But two students did choose the Say books, to my surprise. And, s ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves art, Allen Say, and good children's books.
Recommended to Margie by: Allen Say
Another beautiful book by Allen Say, and this one is autobiographical about his teenage years as a young artist in post-WWII Japan. I heard the author speak at UCLA in February (2012), and he is as dynamic and charming as his books. Allen Say knew as a small child that he wanted to be an artist and nothing ever deterred him from his dream. How wonderful to have such a talent and such a passion, and to be able to live it every day.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ncbla, nbgs2012, art
Filled with the author's own photographs, drawings, and cartoons as well as comic strip panels from his mentor, Noro Shinpei, this memoir of Say's early years in Japan is required for anyone who loves his work and wants to understand it on a deep level. I certainly hope that Say plans to continue describing his life by exploring his early years in the United States. Beginning with Say's birth in 1937 in Yokohoma, the book traces Say's early literacy and artistic experiences and his fondness for ...more
Follows the childhood of illustrator Allen Say. I particularly appreciated the insiders perspective on Japan during and after World War II. He doesn't talk much about the war, but I will be keeping this in mind while I read Ghosts in the Fog.

The thing I liked most about this is how he integrates photographs, his own illustrations in a variety of styles, text, and other people's illustrations. It's not quite a graphic novel (except for maybe one page). It's not quite a picture book. It's almost
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Melody, Lizz, Laurie, Mam, Tomie de Paola (you'll love it, Tomie D)
Loved, loved, loved this book about learning to be an artist and--well, and all the other things this book is about, like divided families and education and passions and being a boy in Japan during and after WWII. I loved it so much that it was a big wrench when I made myself stop reading for a moment about halfway through to text my brother-in-law that he'd better put this book on hold right away. ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Susann by: Wendy & Melody
Beautiful book, both the storytelling and the artwork. I very much enjoyed learning Say's personal history and getting another glimpse of post-WWII Japan, but I most enjoyed the parts about being and becoming an artist. The blend of illustrations and photography work as a scrapbook but become a cohesive work of art.

Now I want to read and see more by Say.
The remarkable story of Allen Say's childhood and his development as an artist. This book is filled with Say's personal photograph and artwork, as well as the origins of many characters and storylines from his famous picture books. ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am happy to report that there has been an uptick in options for those children handed the standard "You Must Read an Autobiography" assignment in school. Which is to say, more and more people are writing their autobiographies for the younger reading set. The catch? Well, it appears that the only people who tend to do this are children's authors themselves. So it is that you'll find autobios by folks like Jean Fritz, Jon Scieszka, Ed Young, Jerry Spinelli, Ether Hautzig, and others. What you wo ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely memoir about becoming an artist/cartoonist in the 1950’s. Drawn and written, it is hardly a book just for children. The reverence Say shows for his sensei is deep. His sensei placed his trust in the right boy.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful book. I absolutely love all of the different kinds of art, pictures, photographs, postcards... illustrations, pen and ink, watercolor, charcoal... What a way to tell a memoir. This is going to be so helpful when I teach memoir writing to my students, soon!
Margo Tanenbaum
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful realized autobiographical graphic novel memoir of Allen Say's education as an artist during Wold War II. Excellent for adults or for older children, ages 10 and up, ...more
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting style, part scrapbook, comic strips, stories of his life as an artist.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Artists are different from you and me. They are just hardwired to draw, paint, sculpt. Allen Say, in this brilliant autobiography, narrates his struggle to become an artist in spite of war, lack of parental support, money and emigration. The mix of sketches, finished drawings and vintage photographs makes this into one of the best family albums you will ever have the privilege of peeking into.
Alex  Baugh
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-2
I met Allen Say at a “Meet the Artist” event at the Eric Carle Museum in 2007 when they were running an exhibit of his work called Allen Say: a Sense of Place. It was very nice to meet him, since he is a really charming, friendly person and one of my favorite author/illustrators.

While all of his books stem from his lifetime experiences, Drawing from Memory is Say’s first autobiographical work focused on how he became an artist. Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1937, he was taught by his mother to rea
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure that this is "graphic novel" treatment of Say's personal life -- it has text and it has graphics but it feels more like a scrapbook with clippings of thoughts and images (both photographs and drawings). It is brutally honest: I felt pained by the lack of tenderness and affection from family members that Say received as a child and a youth. But it also shows how one can make one's own family from those who appreciate and spiritually and emotionally adopt one as a child or a sibling. ...more
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Allen Say uses photographs, cartoons, paintings, and of course, words to illustrate an autobiographical look at his early years as an artist.

When was the last time you met a twelve-year-old who lived on his own in an apartment in a huge city? Probably never, right? Well that was real life for Allen Say.

Say had always known that he loved to draw, even when it was to the detriment of his school work and strongly discouraged by his own father. But when his grandmother told him that he
I rarely give a book five stars, but this book deserves no less.
It is three things:
1) An autobiography of Allen Say's early life, from the age of 4 until he left Japan as a teenager
2) A book about living your dream, no matter how impractical the rest of the world says it is
3) A book about life as an artist, in postwar Japan
The text is relatively brief, interspersed with short graphic segments, drawings and photographs, including work by his mentor Noro Shinpei, a revered cartoonist in Japan in t
Danielle Harriger
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I would recommend this book to other children because Allen’s story of his journey to become an artist was uplifting and interesting. For example, I was inspired that even though Allen’s father condemned him for being a “lazy” artist, Allen still followed his passion and made his dream come true. I think it is important for children to take action and put forth effort in doing what they love, as Allen does when he goes directly to Noro Shinpei’s studio to be an apprentice at the young age of 13. ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: Intermediate
Genre: Biography-Graphic Novel
Discussion Questions: Remembering: Who were the main characters? Understanding: Explain why the story has the title it does. Applying: Think about when the main character was offered the option to move into an apartment on his own. What would you have done in that situation? Analyzing: What is the relationship between the main character and his father? How does this relationship evolve over the course of the story? Evaluating: In your opinion w
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
It was really cool to see the story of how Allen Say grew up and fostered his passion for drawing. I also liked that it was told in a medium that was engaging and interesting. I had never known much of Say's story or how he became an artist and so this biography was very intriguing. The pictures were good and I especially enjoyed the photographs of Say's childhood. A good read if you're interested in learning more about the life of this marvelous storyteller.

*Taken from my book reviews blog: htt
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Imagine: How Creativity Works
  • The Natural Way to Draw
  • Ways of Seeing
  • The Story of Art
  • Anatomy for the Artist
  • PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives (PostSecret)
  • An Object of Beauty
  • Amphigorey (Amphigorey, #1)
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
  • Clara and Mr. Tiffany
  • Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature
  • The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt
  • The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
  • The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss
  • Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
  • Good Faeries Bad Faeries
  • Griffin and Sabine (Griffin & Sabine #1)
  • The Gashlycrumb Tinies (The Vinegar Works, #1)
See similar books…
Allen Say is one of the most beloved artists working today. He is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY, and also won a Caldecott Honor and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for THE BOY OF THE THREE-YEAR NAP (written by Dianne Snyder). Many of Allen’s stories are derived from his own experiences as a child. His other books include THE BICYCLE MAN, TEA WITH MILK, and TREE OF ...more

News & Interviews

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
34 likes · 6 comments