Grandfather's Journey
by Allen Say
book talk
completed by Sabrina

author/illustrator study
completed by Melanie

classroom connections
completed by Pat

list of related books
completed by Julie

web activity
completed by Gail


written and illustrated by Allen Say
Houghton Mifflin Company
copyright 1993

Winner of the 
Caldecott Medal
for excellent artwork

Website information compiled by:

Pat Nock
Melanie Windsor
Julie Kasakitis
Sabrina Sins
Gail Hildenbrand

Book Talk

    The story, Grandfather's Journey, is about a young man who leaves his homeland in Japan to travel to America. He falls in love with the country and its beautiful sights. When he begins to miss his homeland, he decides to travel back to Japan to see all the beautiful sights he has missed and to marry his sweetheart. Later on, he begins to miss his second home of California and takes his wife and child to America to live. When his daughter is grown, she leaves America to travel to Japan and raise her own family. She loves Japan and her son grows up hearing about his grandfather who lives in America. This boy ends up writing the story and eventually travels to America. It is in America that he comes to an understanding about how his grandfather felt about his travels.
      The art and illustrations involved in this book look as if they are still life photos of landscapes and people. They are put together as if in order of a family scrapbook or photo album. The water colors help contribute to the meaning of the story by following the grandfather's trips from Japan to America and back. It is definetly worthy of the Caldecott Award that it received.

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Author/Illustrator Study

        Allen Say is the author and illustrator of many award winning books such as Emma's Rug, El Chino, and Tree of Cranes . At the age of 12, he was able to move into his own apartment to start studying art and writing. He lived in poverty for a long time and had to find odd jobs to make money. He also attended many different schools in his youth. He made his breakthrough when he began studying under Noro Shinpei, his favorite cartoonist. His first book, The Ink Keepers Apprentice, was the story of his work with Shinpei.

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Classroom Connections

****These ideas are general and would have to be refined to suit the grade level and the particular students:****

Art --  Have students learn more about the medium of water color by discussing the art in the story. Also, have students visit sites that feature examples of water color art. Have students discuss their feelings when they look at the illustrations.

Have students make a water color pinwheel.

Writing --  Have students imagine they are an immigrant coming to America for the first time. Students should write about their experiences, including the journey, reasons why they came to America, their expectations, and what their lives would be like when they first arrived.

Discussion -- Discuss how Amercica and Japan are portrayed in this book. How are the homes different? How do the landscapes, style of dress, and objects of daily life differ?

Creative Dramatics -- Have a Japanese Culture Day. Include a tea ceremony, a lesson in eating with chop sticks, and sampling traditional foods from Japan. Also the teacher can display items like kimonos, Daruma dolls, coins, and wooden sandals. Invite a guest to come speak about his Japanese culture. Have children act out a tradtitional Japanese play or story that they have read.

Social Studies -- Have students learn about distances by looking at a map of the world. Using the map on the website, have students find the distance between Tokyo and San Francisco. Have them label the cities and draw a line to connect them. See

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List of Related Books
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Web activity

    Have children read the information on the following web pages. After reading this information, they are to write a paragraph about the history of origami and what it means. Then, the students are to print out the directions on the second webpage for how to make an origami animal shape. The students will need to create and form their animals and then decorate them. Afterwards, they are to create a short story about their animal that they can act out in a play for the whole class to see.
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Related Websites
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