cover image Shapes, Lines, and Light: My Grandfather’s American Journey

Shapes, Lines, and Light: My Grandfather’s American Journey

Katie Yamasaki. Norton Young Readers, $21.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-324-01701-1

With evocative writing and light-filled illustrations, Yamasaki pays homage to the legacy of her grandfather, Japanese American architect Minoru “Yama” Yamasaki (1912–1986), who designed the World Trade Center, among many other buildings. Visceral descriptions of the prejudice Yama encountered over the course of his career infuse every aspect of the biography—from his labor for an Alaskan cannery to the bias he’s shown as a job seeker during the Great Depression (“Have you ever tasted something bitter in your mouth?/ That’s how they said ‘Japanese’ ”) to his efforts on behalf of family escaping internment camps during WWII. Airy, light-filled, welcoming constructions become Yama’s response to these experiences: “The spaces he built connected to the humanity of everyday people.” While the text often only gestures toward specific events (“Many years later, a terrible thing happened,” accompanies an image of the Twin Towers billowing smoke), an author’s note amply fills in the blanks with a full chronology of the figure’s life. Appropriately, surreal artwork embraces the lofty shapes, lines, and light that define its subject’s style. Ages 6–8. (Oct.)