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Shapes, Lines, and Light

My Grandfather's American Journey



Norton Young Readers

(pub.10.18.2022) 56 pages

Author and Illustrator: Katie Yamasaki

Character: 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."

Tantalizing taste:

" His work grew, his name grew. The pressure upon him, that grew too.

He made mistakes and had regrets that would take time to fully understand.

People he worked with didn't always agree or share his vision.

Things didn't always work out the way he planned.

But so often, Yama found his way.

Bringing the outside work in.

Letting the sun shine through ceiling, illuminating shapes.

The reflecting water of a still pool quieting a busy mind.

So one might sit, in peace."

And something more: Katie Yamasaki, in the Author's Note, explains that "Prior to the year of his graduation, the [University of Washington] had always awarded the top students a scholarship to study at the Society of Beaux Arts in Paris, but that yer it canceled the scholarship so as not to grant it to Minoru. Greatly upset by this act, Tsuenjiro took the family on a trip to Japan that they could barely afford. The architecture and aesthetic of Japan impacted Minoru greatly. The exchange between the natural world and human-made structure remained with him and became a foundational principle in his own work."


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