A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi

Viking. Jun. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593203446.
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.

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