cover image A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi

A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi

James Yang. Viking, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-20344-6

Miniature, toy-like images by Geisel Medalist Yang (Stop! Bot!) follow a solitary boy who’s drawn to nature’s elemental forms. He’s based on the sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), but readers needn’t have that context to take pleasure in this story. In a second-person telling that places readers right in the moment, Isamu is at the market in Japan with his mother, off at the edge of the action: “Maybe there is a quiet space that feels more like you,” the text reads. Wandering beyond a group of children who play loudly, Isamu walks, asking questions: “Why does cloth feel soft? Who made the path with stone?... How can light feel so welcoming?” In the forest, he sees leaves, grass, and more stones (“If you are Isamu, stones are the most special of all”), then finds his way to the quiet rumble of the ocean. “Isamu! There you are!” his mother cries, reaching for an embrace—when she asks about his day, “You think about how you were/ alone but not lonely.” Less a biography than an attentive, balanced study of an artist’s sensibility, this story ends with an author’s note about Noguchi, who believed that “when an artist stopped being a child, he would stop being an artist.” Ages 3–7. [em](June) [/em]