Books by Allen Say

THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER by Allen Say
Released: June 1, 2013

"This is as much a story about cultural pride as it about self-esteem and problem-solving, from which all can draw a lesson. (Picture book. 5-8)"
When an episode of teasing makes Yuriko doubt herself—her name, her heritage, her interests—her father gently guides her back to her roots and herself. Read full book review >
DRAWING FROM MEMORY by Allen Say
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

"Aesthetically superb; this will fascinate comics readers and budding artists while creating new Say fans. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 10 & up)"
Exquisite drawings, paintings, comics and photographs balance each other perfectly as they illustrate Say's childhood path to becoming an artist. Read full book review >
THE BOY IN THE GARDEN by Allen Say
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2010

"This is a beautiful, moving, quietly mysterious read, ripe with possibilities for interpretation and contemplation. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Say is at the height of his artistic achievement in this tale of a little boy named Jiro and the powerful impact that a story has on him. Read full book review >
ERIKA-SAN by Allen Say
by Allen Say, illustrated by Allen Say
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Jan. 26, 2009

"Expert angles and a touching sense of stillness make this piece visually masterful even while conceptually disquieting. (Picture book. 5-7)"
Say's hallmark watercolors, beautifully composed and superbly detailed, illustrate this slightly unsettling shift of homeland. Read full book review >
KAMISHIBAI MAN by Allen Say
Released: Oct. 24, 2005

"A fascinating window on a bygone art form. (Picture book. 6-10)"
Kamishibai means "paper theater" in Japanese, and when Caldecott artist Say was a boy in Japan in the 1940s, a "kamishibai man" on a bicycle used to sell sweets and tell serial tales of heroes and heroines, using picture cards and a wooden stage. Read full book review >
MUSIC FOR ALICE by Allen Say
FICTION
Released: March 29, 2004

"Each of Say's exquisite paintings tells a story; together they create a moving testament to a life of hard work and dreams—dreams that find fulfillment in unanticipated ways. (Picture book. All ages)"
Understated full-page water-color paintings and a spare text tell the life story of Alice Sumida, who "loved dancing more than anything else." Read full book review >
HOME OF THE BRAVE by Allen Say
Released: April 30, 2002

"While providing much to speculate on, this will probably find its rightful audience with teens and adults. (Picture book. 10+)"
Say (The Sign Painter, 2000, etc.) takes readers on a very personal and perplexing journey in this latest outing, melding together, in dream and nightmare-like fashion, the past, present, and future. Read full book review >
THE SIGN PAINTER by Allen Say
FICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

"As with much of Say's work, this spare episode will appeal most to readers of an inward, analytical bent who enjoy winkling out hidden meanings and subtle allusions. (Picture book. 10+)"
Say scatters references to other artists through a typically elliptical tale of an itinerant painter and a man with a lonely, soaring vision. Read full book review >
TEA WITH MILK by Allen Say
Released: April 1, 1999

"A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman's How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)"
In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say's mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Read full book review >
ALLISON by Allen Say
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

"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. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Say's trademark nuanced and limpid watercolors convey and complete the emotional resonance of this adoption story. Read full book review >
EMMA'S RUG by Allen Say
by Allen Say, illustrated by Allen Say
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Readers who found Say's Stranger in the Mirror (1995) opaque will welcome his return to limpid, ruminative form as he weighs in with a characteristically terse, oblique consideration of the wellsprings of artistic creativity. Read full book review >
EL CHINO by Allen Say
Released: March 3, 1996

"Still, interesting as far as it goes."
The true story of a Chinese-American bullfighter. Read full book review >
STRANGER IN THE MIRROR by Allen Say
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

"Readers willing to dig deeply may find here a protest against marginalizing the elderly; most will see it as a transformation story, more stridently earnest than David Small's Imogene's Antlers (1985), Arthur Yorinks's Louis the Fish (1980), or Anthony Browne's entire oeuvre. (Picture book. 8+)"
Thinking about his grandfather, Sam decides that he doesn't want to grow old—but he wakes up the next morning with an old man's face. Read full book review >
GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY by Allen Say
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

"Lovely, quiet- -with a tenderness and warmth new to this fine illustrator's work. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4+)"
"The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other," observes Say near the end of this poignant account of three generations of his family's moves between Japan and the US. Read full book review >
TREE OF CRANES by Allen Say
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

"Beautiful, honest, but disturbing. (Picture book. 4-8)"
When the young Japanese narrator comes home with a cold after playing in a forbidden pond, his mother "barely looks at him" and puts him into a hot bath and then to bed without so much as a story. Read full book review >
THE LOST LAKE by Allen Say
Released: Oct. 1, 1989

"But Say's spare, meticulously composed watercolors are the book's outstanding feature."
When Luke (who might be as young as six or as old as ten in different illustrations) spends the summer with Dad, he's virtually ignored—until the morning Dad suddenly announces that they're going camping at Lost Lake, a spot Dad fondly remembers as solitary. Read full book review >
A RIVER DREAM by Allen Say
illustrated by Allen Say
Released: Oct. 1, 1988

"Reason enough for purchase; and the story may prompt thought among would-be fisher-people."
Ill with fever, Mark receives a gift from Uncle Scott: a box of trout flies. Read full book review >
THE BICYCLE MAN by Allen Say
Released: Sept. 13, 1982

"Savor it, share it, and let the Japanese traditions and the wonderful meetings speak for themselves."
A delightful story, reportedly a memory from Say's childhood, of the children's first encounter with American soldiers at a 1946 spring sports day in a Japanese elementary school. Read full book review >
THE INN-KEEPER'S APPRENTICE by Allen Say
Released: March 1, 1979

"A sparkling, touch-true portrait of a young person coming into his own."
Kiyoi is thrilled when the "great master," a famous cartoonist, takes him on as a student-assistant, and from that moment his life becomes rich and exciting. Read full book review >
THE FEAST OF LANTERNS by Allen Say
Released: Sept. 1, 1976

"And even if children don't know where Kamome Jima is, they'll appreciate the chance to share the exploration of a different (if not better) place without being subjected to a geography lesson—or any other kind."
In a small, unorchestrated story that reads a bit like a memory, Bozu and Kozo leave their tiny fishing island of Kamome Jima to visit the mainland, which they call "the better place." Read full book review >
UNDER THE CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE by Allen Say
Released: March 20, 1974

"Say avoids the temptation to ham it up, and his misty fine line illustrations, which reflect the Japanese setting, help to make the far-fetched developments dreamily believable."
This traditional Japanese joke/tale (called a "pillow" or makura according to Say's introduction) proceeds from the ridiculous to the outlandish in relating the fate of a stingy old landlord who swallows a cherry pit. Read full book review >
DR. SMITH'S SAFARI by Allen Say
Released: March 8, 1972

"Though there are shades of the Wild Things in the jungle scenes and perhaps a distant relationship between Dr. Smith and Lobel's Mister Muster, Say's slyly amusing animals, flowered fields, and candlelit interiors have their own hospitable appeal."
Jaunty Dr. Smith's safari begins with sunny promise in a luxuriance of fauna and foliage that recalls a spruced-up Ungerer, but the outing ends with the sportsman destroying his gun in remorse after dining with a happy assortment of jungle animals and shooting at an unseen disturbance that turns out to be-some odd little men throwing coconuts. Read full book review >