Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Inker’s Shadow

Say, Allen (Author/Illustrator)
Scholastic 2015. 80 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9780545437769 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Memoir

Text Elements:

conflict, dialogue, layout, multimodal, panel arrangement, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

In this inspiring memoir, the award-winning author and illustrator Allen Say offers a touching self-portrait of his first years in America. Eight years after World War II, 15-year old Say left Japan for a military academy in California. Alone and barely able to speak English, he encountered discrimination, bullying, poverty and a puzzling new culture. His illustrated memoir also highlights the support of teachers and mentors who recognized and helped further his artistic development.

Presented as a series of vignettes, the author’s simple, straightforward text sensitively delivers deep honest emotion. When Say is expelled from military school: “Father was gone. I felt eyes on me but no one came out, not even a cat or a dog … Where will I sleep tonight? Oh, let me be an old man looking back on today!” and when a kind school principal accepts him as a student in his junior year: “I almost choked. A man I’d never met before called me ‘son’ – a word my father never used for me. I didn’t break down as I thanked him. But I did outside.”

Every page is a captivating mosaic of short blocks of text and illustrations showcasing Say’s broad artistic range. Whether watercolour, meticulously drawn pen and ink, pencil or oils, framed or surrounded by white space, the serious or comic illustrations make scenes and characters vivid.

A testament to the resilience and the commitment needed to fulfill one’s dreams, Say also shows readers how simple acts of kindness can transform a life.

  •  

    This memoir describes the immigrant experience of a Japanese teenager in 1950’s America. Discuss what you know about that time in history and predict what challenges Allen might face.

  •  

    In small reading groups, discuss the issues that Allen addresses through his memoir. Explore the way his perseverance allowed him to overcome obstacles and how his experiences have led him to his current position.

  •  Include this text, along with other memoirs of young people facing challenges, in a text set intended for use in literature circle discussion and/or in a mini genre study.
  •  

    What challenges do you believe a young Japanese teen must have faced when immigrating to the U.S., not long after World War II? Discuss your ideas in a small group, then suggest ways the teen can deal with these challenges.

  •  As you read, keep track of the people who helped Allen’s progress and those who hindered it. How did they all contribute to his impressions of America and his subsequent success?
  •  

    Write a short How-to article, as Allen, explaining to newly landed immigrants what to do in order to successfully pursue your dreams in a foreign land.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Social Sciences
  • Visual Arts