Shapes, Lines, and Light

My Grandfather's American Journey

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Pub Date 06 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2022
W. W. Norton & Company, Norton Young Readers

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Katie Yamasaki’s newest picture book celebrates the life of her grandfather, the acclaimed Japanese American architect Minoru Yamasaki.

Minoru Yamasaki described the feeling he sought to create in his buildings as “serenity, surprise, and delight.” Here, Katie Yamasaki charts his life and work: his childhood in Seattle’s Japanese immigrant community, paying his way through college working in Alaska’s notorious salmon canneries, his success in architectural school, and the transformative structures he imagined and built. A Japanese American man who faced brutal anti-Asian racism in post–World War II America and an outsider to the architectural establishment, he nonetheless left his mark on the world, from the American Midwest to New York City, Asia, and the Middle East.

This striking picture book renders one artist’s work through the eyes of another, and tells a story of a man whose vision, hard work, and humanity led him to the pinnacle of his field.

About the Author: Katie Yamasaki works primarily as a muralist and picture book creator. She has painted more than 80 murals round the world, and her most recent books are Everything Naomi Loved and Dad Bakes.

Katie Yamasaki’s newest picture book celebrates the life of her grandfather, the acclaimed Japanese American architect Minoru Yamasaki.

Minoru Yamasaki described the feeling he sought to create in...

Advance Praise

Praise for Everything Naomi Loved: "Champions the power of ordinary people to preserve what's lost through art."-PW, starred review; "Naomi's home-its sights, smells, sounds, and interactions-is forever a place of love."-Kirkus

Praise for Dad Bakes: "Richly saturated, dynamic paintings…and intricately detailed spreads offer plenty to pore over in this meditative tale."-PW, starred; Full of quiet moments of joy and affirmation."-Kirkus, starred; "A heartfelt work."-Booklist

Praise for Everything Naomi Loved: "Champions the power of ordinary people to preserve what's lost through art."-PW, starred review; "Naomi's home-its sights, smells, sounds, and interactions-is...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781324017011
PRICE $21.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 17 members

Featured Reviews

This picture book biography tells the story of the author's grandfather, a Japanese American who faced adversity in trying to attend college and earn a degree during the time between the world wars. Due to excessive amounts of racism towards Japanese people, especially closer to WWII, the experience of Japanese Americans was very difficult during the mid 1900s. The author mixes the positive parts of her grandfather's life with the challenges he faced and also compares them to the racism and destruction created surrounding 9/11 in NYC. As an architect, her grandfather had a passion for buildings and even though he was not alive when the towers fell, the author was able to share the grief he would have felt in a way that young children would understand. The book ends with an extensive author's note about her grandfather and his studies of architecture and his challenges facing racism.

I think this book would be great for teachers wanting to teach about diversity, racism and inclusion both in America's past and where we are today. I think it is also a great opportunity for teachers to show students that even if someone faces significant challenges related poverty and discrimination, it is possible to persevere. I also love that this book shows both sides of architecture: a science and an artform. Picturebook biographies are very popular right now and I think this book would be no exception! I would highly recommend it to parens and teachers of children in the 6-10 age range. Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this great book!

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A beautiful story of finding yourself in a world that says you don't belong by @Katie_Yamasaki A story of perseverance through hate and judgment.

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Shapes, Lines, and Light by Katie Yamasaki tells the story about one of America’s most talented architects, Minoru Yamasaki. Yamasaki is best known for designing the Twin Towers. However, his legacy goes throughout the world.
Yamasaki was born in Seattle, to immigrant parents. He faced much prejudice during his life, yet he persevered and started his own design company.
This is a great book for children in grades 3-8. The lovely pictures compliment the story perfectly. I want to thank the author, Norton Young Readers and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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This is the most famous architect you have probably never heard of. If you were to say, oh, he probably did obscure buildings, then I would have to say, oh, was the world trade center in New York obscure? He also designed the Century towers in Century City California, and the St. Louis Lamhert Airport Terminal. All his designs were full of light and air, because he wanted that for people.

Written by his granddaughter, this is a very simplified story of his life, but it also explains the hardship he faced being a Japanese-American, and how he had to work twice as hard to get where his white colleagues got. He wasn't interned during World War 2, simply because he was living in New York at the time, but his parents had to come and live with him, because they had their store taken from them, and would have been interred with the other members of his family that weren't so lucky.

In the back of the picture book, it goes over in more detail what he went through and some of the more famous buildings he designed. Amazing story, and so glad it was written.

<em>Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.</em>

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This is a wonderful picture book biography. So much is packed into such a short read! Katie Yamasaki is able to share the achievements and hardships her grandfather experienced through the lens of a young reader. She touches on anti-asian hate, Japanese internment camps, and even red-lining in a way that provokes curiosity in a young reader to seek out more on Japanese American history. The drawings of her grandfather’s work accompanied throughout the book are beautiful. I can’t believe that I am just learning about him, his name, and his work from this book. I would definitely recommend this book to educators at my school, as well as read it with my students and daughter.

Thank you Netgalley and W.W. Norton & Company, Norton Young Readers for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I absolutely love picture book biographies, and Katie Yamasaki's Shapes, Lines, and Light is no exception. The story is deep, yet simply told for even the youngest readers to understand. The adoration for the work her grandfather had done and the struggle he faced leaps off the pages through Yamasaki's words. The art is also beautiful and complements the story so well. This story taught me more about the prejudices against Japanese Americans than I had previously known. Very informative, lovingly written, and beautifully drawn.

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The general public might know of Minoru Yamasaki as the architect of the original World Trade Center complex in New York; architecture fans might also know of his work on the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St. Louise. However, Yamasaki's dedication to "light and serenity" was infused throughout all of his work, inspired by his travels and personal life experiences. One particularly striking passage depicts a younger Yamasaki cycling and out of buildings as he gets repeatedly rejected for jobs, primarily due to anti-Japanese sentiment. It ends of a home. I love how the author/illustrator--Yamasaki's granddaughter--combines the text with vivid interpretations of the architect's buildings and philosophy, and ends with a hopeful note about her grandfather's legacy.

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I loved learning about this architect and all his contributions and his journey to become the successful person that he was. I enjoyed the illustrations being so building focused. This will be a book I add to my classroom library. Thank you #netgalley for giving me a copy of this book.

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This is a well-told, insightful biography of Minoru Yamasaki, the author's grandfather. His caring, insight, and architectural ability shines through. Readers learn about the challenges he faced because of prejudice towards Japanese-Americans, but also of his resilience, his desire to succeed, his artistic vision and abilities, and his love of family, An author's note provides even more information and illustrations of his architectural works. A glowing tribute to a meaningful, productive life, by his granddaughter, Katie Yamasaki, a well-known muralist and author. There are many lessons to be learned for considering Minoru Yamasaki's life story. The illustrations, too, beautifully evoke his architectural works.

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One artist, reminiscing on the art of her grandfather. Katie's work reminds me a lot of murals. The faces (and people in general) are given greater contour, to help them stand out against vast backgrounds and sometimes over-busy foregrounds. Over-busy not in a sense of artistic judgement, but more for the frantic struggle of Minoru Yamasaki to just tread water long enough to achieve his dream of becoming an architect.

The book, of course, portrays many of Yamasaki's structures, as well as the international influences that helped build his own personal style. The artist/storyteller also doesn't shy from Minoru's failures, such as the Pruitt-Igoe housing project. The story rounds out with the fall of the Twin Towers, another of Yamasaki's works, and how Minoru's legacy lives on in his stylistic ideals, if not always directly in his creations.

The book ends with a more detailed biography section, but the best part, in my opinion are all the original sketches of Yamasaki's buildings, including one of his own family home! Locations are given (most in the United States, but one in India, one in Japan, and two in Saudi Arabia), so even if you don't immediately recognize a building, you've likely been to one of the major cities and could pull up some vacation pictures for your kid, to show you by the structures.

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