A Tale of Two Countries

9780544050501_hresGrandfather’s Journey: 20th Anniversary Edition
Written and Illustrated by Allen Say
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, Boston, $17.99)

Every immigrant knows the sorrow of leaving home; the lucky ones also experience the excitement of discovering a new land. The most fortunate find themselves with a foot in two worlds. However, although they have two homes, neither feels complete: a part of them is always in another land. In Grandfather’s Journey, writer and illustrator Allen Say conveys the joys and lingering wistfulness of migration as he relates how his grandfather divided his life between the U.S. and Japan. The picture-book biography has an arresting structure: each page contains a painting that, like a photograph, captures a single moment in the life of Say’s grandfather. Below each illustration lie a few lines of text that act as a caption. Say’s illustrations convey the beauty of both countries, his grandfather’s youthful excitement, his pride in his growing family, the horrors of war, and the poignancy of homesickness. With Say’s understated prose and graceful illustrations, this twentieth anniversary edition of Grandfather’s Journey should move adults and children of all ages.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

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