Music for Alice
By Allen Say
(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Hardcover, 9780618311187, 32pp.)
Publication Date: March 2004
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As a girl, Alice loved to dance, but the rhythms of her life offered little opportunity for a foxtrot, let alone a waltz. World War II erupted soon after she was married. Alice and her husband, along with many other Japanese Americans, were forced to leave their homes and report to assembly centers around the country. Undaunted, Alice and her husband learned to make the most of every circumstance, from their stall in the old stockyard in Portland to the decrepit farm in the Oregon desert, with its field of stones. Like a pair of skilled dancers, they sidestepped adversity to land gracefully amid golden opportunity. Together they turned a barren wasteland into a field of endless flowers. Such achievements did not come without effort and sacrifice, though, and Alice often thought her dancing days were long behind her. But as her story testifies, life is full of changes . . .
In this striking book, Allen Say introduces readers to the remarkable story of the life of a woman whose perseverance and resilience serve as an inspirational reminder that dreams can be fulfilled, even when least expected.
Allen Say was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1937. He dreamed of becoming a cartoonist from the age of six, and, at age twelve, apprenticed himself to his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei. For the next four years, Say learned to draw and paint under the direction of Noro, who has remained Say's mentor. Say illustrated his first children's book -- published in 1972 -- in a photo studio between shooting assignments. For years, Say continued writing and illustrating children's books on a part-time basis. But in 1987, while illustrating THE BOY OF THE THREE-YEAR NAP (Caldecott Honor Medal), he recaptured the joy he had known as a boy working in his master's studio. It was then that Say decided to make a full commitment to doing what he loves best: writing and illustrating children's books. Since then, he has written and illustrated many books, including TREE OF CRANES and GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY, winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal. He is a full-time writer and illustrator living in Portland, Oregon.
"The drama is quiet. As always with Say, the exquisite watercolors tell an American story." Booklist, ALA
"Once again, Say practically takes one's breath away with the understated beauty of his watercolors." Publishers Weekly