Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

This has got to be my all-time favorite book for those of us who call a foreign country home. Although this is a picture book intended for children, it is a treasure for adults, too.

With gentle words, Allen Say relates the story of his grandfather, who felt torn between his two homes, one in Japan and one in California. We see his grandfather pictured throughout the book in poignant watercolors, which won the book the Caldecott Medal. He spends part of his youth traveling across the U.S., returns to Japan to marry, but settles in San Francisco to start a family. Eventually, he journeys back to Japan with his wife and grown daughter, but still hopes to see California again as he grows older. Mr. Say, born in Japan, eventually sees California for himself and finds himself loving two lands just as his grandfather did.

I can relate to the grandfather, who found beauty and friends in both of his homes, and often longed for the one he was not in. At the end of the book, Mr. Say says that he is starting to understand this about his grandfather as well. I cannot get through the book without tearing up when I come to this line:

The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.

Yeah. Me, too.