Say, Allan (1993). Grandfather’s Journey. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Plot Description: A young man recounts his Grandfather’s journey from Japan to America, where he explores and never misses home. He loves California and brings his bride there and they raise a daughter in San Francisco. However, as time goes by, his Grandfather misses his homeland and longs to return to the country of his birth. When is daughter is almost grown he can no longer wait and moves his family to Japan. The young man remembers his Grandfather’s stories of life in America and the last time he sees him, he dreams of once more visiting America. The young man follows in his Grandfather’s footsteps-traveling to America and making a home there, but he still has a longing in his heart for Japan and must return when it gets too strong. Their shared experiences help him understand his Grandfather and miss him very much.
Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: AD650L, ATOS Book Level: 3.6, Interest Level: Lower Grades (K-3), AR Points: 0.5
Qualitative Reading Analysis: The text organization is clear and chronological. Illustrations directly support the interpretation and understanding of the text, but are not necessary for comprehension. The language is contemporary and familiar. It adheres closely to the reader’s linguistic base. The text is easy to understand and most is literal, though some inference is needed for the parts about the war and the songbirds. The sentence structure is primarily simple and compound, with some complex sentences. The theme is clear, but has some subtlety in the way it is conveyed. The experience of feeling torn between two homelands may be familiar to some immigrant students, but will not be common to others. Some cultural elements are conveyed through illustrations, such as the picture of Grandfather in his ‘European clothes’ as well as pictures in traditional Japanese clothes. There are no allusions to other texts.
Content Area: English, Literature
Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards Reading: Literature
Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.9 Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series).
Curriculum Suggestions: Have students discuss their own travels (vacations, trips to see family friends or relatives, etc). How did they get there? How long did it take? How is the place different from their home? Have students read the companion book by the same author about the narrator’s mother’s story as a girl growing up in San Francisco and then moving to Japan. Compare and contrast the two stories and the characters feelings about their native and adopted lands.
Supporting Digital Content:
Awards: ALA Notable/Best Books; Award Winners-Horn Book Fanfare; Award Winners-Booklist Editors’ Choice; Award Winners-NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts; Award Winners-Parent’s Choice Award/Honor Book; Award Winners-BCCB Blue Ribbon Book; Award Winners-Caldecott Medal; Award Winners-Boston Globe/Horn Book Award/Honors; Award Winners-SLJ Best Book
Character names/descriptions: Grandfather-he leaves Japan and goes out to see the world as a young man, then settles in California, but cannot stop the ache that he feels for Japan as he gets older. His Grandson narrates the story and has similar experiences.
High interest annotation: Can your home be two places simultaneously?