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A Boy Named Isamu
Cover of A Boy Named Isamu
A Boy Named Isamu
A Story of Isamu Noguchi
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Awarded an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Picture Book Honor, this stunning picture book brings to life the imagination of Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi.(Cover image may vary.)If...
Awarded an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Picture Book Honor, this stunning picture book brings to life the imagination of Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi.(Cover image may vary.)If...
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Description-

  • Awarded an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Picture Book Honor, this stunning picture book brings to life the imagination of Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi.
    (Cover image may vary.)
    If you are Isamu, stones are the most special of all.
    How can they be so heavy?
    Would they float if they had no weight?
    Winner of the Theordor Seuss Geisel Award in 2020 for Stop! Bot!, James Yang imagines a day in the boyhood of Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi. Wandering through an outdoor market, through the forest, and then by the ocean, Isamu sees things through the eyes of a young artist . . .but also in a way that many children will relate. Stones look like birds. And birds look like stones.
    Through colorful artwork and exquisite text, Yang translates the essence of Noguchi so that we can all begin to see as an artist sees.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 12, 2021
    Miniature, toy-like images by Geisel Medalist Yang (Stop! Bot!) follow a solitary boy who’s drawn to nature’s elemental forms. He’s based on the sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), but readers needn’t have that context to take pleasure in this story. In a second-person telling that places readers right in the moment, Isamu is at the market in Japan with his mother, off at the edge of the action: “Maybe there is a quiet space that feels more like you,” the text reads. Wandering beyond a group of children who play loudly, Isamu walks, asking questions: “Why does cloth feel soft? Who made the path with stone?... How can light feel so welcoming?” In the forest, he sees leaves, grass, and more stones (“If you are Isamu, stones are the most special of all”), then finds his way to the quiet rumble of the ocean. “Isamu! There you are!” his mother cries, reaching for an embrace—when she asks about his day, “You think about how you were/ alone but not lonely.” Less a biography than an attentive, balanced study of an artist’s sensibility, this story ends with an author’s note about Noguchi, who believed that “when an artist stopped being a child, he would stop being an artist.” Ages 3–7.

  • Booklist

    May 1, 2021
    Grades K-2 *Starred Review* Award-winning author-illustrator Yang (Stop! Bot!, 2019) renders this imagined biography of Japanese American Isamu Noguchi with the utmost tenderness. While young readers may not be familiar with Noguchi's sculpture, some will be able to relate to his keen eye and astute curiosity about the world around him. Yang invites us to connect, positing, "If you were a boy named Isamu . . .," and then leads us to notice the details of his surroundings. Leaving the bustle of the marketplace, Isamu retreats into himself and wanders away, thinking about the textures, colors, and forms of objects in the natural world around him. The text and illustrations are almost as spare as Noguchi's modernist sculpture, but rather than celebrate the success of the adult artist, this focuses on the quiet, cerebral, sentient qualities of the little boy who viewed the world as a gift. This lyrical biography will resonate with creative types of all ages and can easily be incorporated into a curriculum as a springboard for writing, research, and art projects. Can be paired thematically with Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad's It Began with a Page (2019) and Barb Rosenstock and Claire A. Nivola's The Secret Kingdom (2018).

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2021
    If you were a boy named Isamu...what would you learn about your world? Beginning with the whimsical jacket design that's echoed in the shapes, colors, and prose that follow, readers are encouraged to experience finding their own voices in quiet spaces. Isamu, a young boy with beige skin and black hair, feels overwhelmed in the crowded and noisy market--a patchwork of stalls, merchandise, and people. Instead he seeks out colorful paper lanterns, a still wood where leaves crunch, a field of grass, a rocky beach, and more. Using the second person, the narrator invites readers to imagine themselves as Isamu, asking his questions and immersing himself in the natural world using his senses. Whimsy is woven throughout, appearing even in a large gray stone with a face that is echoed on the dust jacket. Colorful lines of all forms dominate the design of the spreads--straight bamboo stalks, rounded stones that look like birds, a wavy outline in rock that frames the sea--all carefully rendered in bold colors balanced by plenty of white space. Yang depicts Isamu in proportion with his wonder at the world, by turns prominent and peripheral. The author's note explains how Isamu Noguchi's biracial background (his father was Japanese and his mother was a White American) led to ostracization in both Japan and the United States, prompting him to seek out safe, natural spaces that eventually inspired his artwork, based in stone and wood. (This book was reviewed digitally.) A marvel of prose, illustration, and design that invites repeated meditation. (Picture book. 4-8)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2021

    Gr 1-3-In tribute to Japanese American sculptor Noguchi-or, more precisely, his distinctive vision and affinity for natural forms-Yang portrays an introspective child, Isamu, in Japan who steps away while his mother is shopping to seek out quiet places. In a sparely told slow-growth epiphany young Isamu comes to appreciate shapes of leaves and twigs in a park, how every stone large or small is unique in form and character...and at last how what he sees and touches seemed to be waiting for him, as if "forest and beach were like friends giving you a gift." Along with plenty of white space to reflect the narrative's quiet tone the illustrations feature a small, button-eyed figure with black hair and pale skin taking a wandering course past boulders, bamboo stalks, and undulating shorelines that evoke or are even directly modeled after the artist's own works. Readers will get a fuller picture of Noguchi's life from Christy Hale's The East-West House, but Yang notes the connection he shares with the artist, that "alone time" as "the most special time of all." VERDICT Reflective young readers will come away with a deeper feeling for one artist's work, and also how encounters with nature can spark creativity.-John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, NY

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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A Story of Isamu Noguchi
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