Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace
Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace

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Annotation: Artist Ashley Bryan's experience as a Black soldier in the segregated army of WWII.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #194831
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Atheneum
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 107 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-534-40490-2 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-6171-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-534-40490-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-6171-0
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2019015826
Dimensions: 26 x 29 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Publishers Weekly
This stirring visual memoir of WWII is a personal departure for Bryan (Freedom Over Me), an artist best known for his vibrantly illustrated folktales and poetry for children. Drafted during 1943, his third year at Cooper Union, Bryan found the U.S. Army segregated in baffling and infuriating ways. Barred from most meaningful work, soldiers of color were limited to service as custodians and laborers. They sat at the backs of buses while German POWs laughed and joked up front. Despite the injustice, Bryan used every spare minute to grow as an artist, and with his supplies stashed with his gas mask, he drew and drew, even under threat of punishment: -the harder it was to draw, the more important it was to do it!- Bryan-s own drawings and paintings, letters to his college friend Eva (-I-m really writing you Eva now to cheer me up-), wartime photographs, and text combine in generous, beautifully designed spreads to produce a multimedia experience on each page. Illuminating, disturbing, and ultimately triumphant, this account of WWII, as seen through the eyes of a soldier of color and an artist of extraordinary power, is a precious resource for readers of all ages. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* In this haunting story, Bryan recalls his experiences during WWII. His draft notice arrived when he was a 19-year-old student at Cooper Union. Since childhood, he had drawn the world around him, and he continued to sketch throughout the war, using his gas mask to hold his pencils and his art to help him "survive the brutality" around him. Growing up in Brooklyn, Byran, who is Black, had known racial prejudice but not segregation, which he encountered in the Army. His battalion served in Boston and Glasgow before facing the horrors of war on Omaha Beach. Throughout those years, he continued to draw and write letters. The letters combine with Bryan's thoughtful text to form a vivid, personal narrative. Similarly, the sketches are accompanied by later paintings as well as black-and-white photos of the times and the places mentioned. Sometimes the drawings overlay the photos in intriguing ways. Color is used sparingly and effectively throughout the volume. Bryan's expressive use of words and art is all the more powerful as he recalls acts of kindness as well as the segregation and racism that persisted throughout the war and even after its end. A beloved artist and writer reflects on his war and how he coped with it, by "drawing, drawing, drawing."
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (page 102) and index.
Word Count: 12,559
Reading Level: 6.6
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.6 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 505155 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 990L
Guided Reading Level: O

Recipient of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award
Recipient of a Bologna Ragazzi Non-Fiction Special Mention Honor Award
A Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Book of 2019

From celebrated author and illustrator Ashley Bryan comes a deeply moving picture book memoir about serving in the segregated army during World War II, and how love and the pursuit of art sustained him.

In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army.

He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness—including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought.

For the next forty years, Ashley would keep his time in the war a secret. But now, he tells his story.

The story of the kind people who supported him.
The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark.
And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again.

Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.


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