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Allen Say was born on August 28, 1937, in Yokohama, Japan. From the age of six, he wanted to be a cartoonist. He drew on everything, even walls, but his parents discourages his artwork (even when not on the walls).   "At home, drawing really wasn't acceptable. My father, particularly, wanted a successful business man for a son. So I drew, not in a closet, but always with a sense of guilt."

During World War II, Allen's family moved around a lot to avoid the fighting on the mainland. Allen attended seven different grade schools. When the war was over, Allen's parents divorced and Allen was sent to live with his grandmother. She was very strict and they did not get along. Finally they agreed that grandma would pay for food and rent, and Allen moved into his own apartment, at age 12.

The same year, Allen apprenticed himself to his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei. For the next four years, Allen learned to draw and paint under Noro's guidance, working long hours after school and on weekends. He was trained in both Western and traditional Japanese art. Noro has remained Allen's mentor to this day.

Meanwhile, Allen's father had resettled in California, and sent for Allen to come live with him. Sixteen year-old Allen was faced with a new country, new customs, new language. He caught on pretty quickly. Allen began a career as a photographer. He attended the Los Angeles Art Center School, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the University of California, Berkeley. He studied architecture at Berkeley, and mostly went to avoid the draft. But he was drafted anyway. He was stationed in Germany where he was a firing-panel operator of a missile system which carried a nuclear warhead - the same A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

After the war, Allen was a publisher for EIZO Press in Berkeley, and a commercial photographer and illustrator. He began to turn back to his first love, illustration. He began developing children's books as a hobby, something to work on between photo assignments. His first book was published in 1972. Before long, he was flooded with childhood memories, each of which made a good book. He continued to write and illustrate children's books, and has since won numerous awards.

Over the last two decades, Allen has published nineteen books, fourteen of them written by him. He has one daughter, Yuriko, and lives in San Francisco. He likes fly fishing.



The Bicycle Man

The Boy of the Three-Year Nap

Emma's Rug

Grandfather's Journey   (1994 Caldecott Medal)

How My Parents Learned to Eat

The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice

The Lost Lake

A River Dream

The Sign Painter

Stranger in the Mirror

Tea With Milk

Tree of Cranes

Under the Cherry Blossom Tree

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