The Inker's Shadow

Allen Say. Scholastic Press, $19.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-545-43776-9
In this companion to Drawing from Memory (2011), Say recalls his life as a teenager in the U.S. after leaving Japan for military school in California at age 15. The school, run by a friend of his father's, later expels Say; they don't think he will make "a wholesome American." As a minor with almost no income and a father whose psychological cruelty verges on sadistic, the boy finds himself at the mercy of his country's former enemy. Bullied and patronized ("I got nothing against you, buddy.... But my pop fought against you guys"), he is rescued by kindly strangers who recognize his artistic talent. In his loneliness, Say remembers the cartoon character Kyusuke, a sort of Japanese Pinocchio who provides him with a comic alter ego during his most anguished moments. "How could I forget?" the artist asks himself after his father visits from Japan to personally oversee his expulsion. "I'm Kyusuke! Who needs a father! Good-bye, Father!" The pages offer a wealth of graceful ink portraits, drawings, and paintings, and a provocative view of postwar America from the outside in. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/2015
Release date: 09/29/2015
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