Grandfather's Journey: 07/23/13
Allen Say's picture books are always somewhat autobiographical. Grandfather's Journey is no different as it tells of his grandfather's life in the United States and his return to Japan.
As a young man, Allen's grandfather traveled to the United States. Through odd jobs he worked his way across the country. Says gorgeous paintings show his grandfather against many different American landmarks and landscapes. My favorite shows the small figure of his grandfather against the massive shapes of Monument Valley.
Later though, the grandfather had settled in San Francisco. He married and the had a daughter (Say's mother). Being a parent changes one, makes one nostalgic. He made the decision to move back to Japan. It was there that Say was later born and raised.
Say's story isn't just a biography of his grandfather. It is also an exploration of life and death and that sense of home. Say like his grandfather, calls both Japan and California his home. He says that bouncing homesickness as he travels has made him understand his grandfather and miss him.
Grandfather's Journey is a good introduction to different pieces of recent history. It also could be used to enhance a geography lesson or a genealogy one.