Grandfather’s Journey

A Sophisticated Picture Book:
a response by Saniya in grade eight

A. Bibliographic Entry
Say, Allen. Grandfather’s Journey. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993.

B. Literary Techniques

Arrangement of Words
Repetition: “…black men and white men, with yellow men and red men.” (12).

Sentence Length: “But a war began. Bombs fell from the sky and scattered our lives like leaves in a storm.” (26). • vary; some short and some long

Parallel Structure: “The more he traveled, the more he longed…” (13).

Sounds of Words
Alliteration: “The endless farm fields reminded…” (9).

Assonance: “Deserts with rocks like enormous…” (8).

Choice of Words
Simile: “…scattered our lives like leaves in a storm.” (26).

C. New Knowledge

Steamships were used to transport people from Japan to North America via the Pacific Ocean. (4, 5, 6).

The Sierra Mountains are in California. (14).

There are many songbirds in Japan. (18).

A war began in Japan, involving the dropping of bombs and the destruction of houses. (27).
D. An Important Idea about Life
Can people move to other countries and still be homesick?

E. Your Thoughts About that Idea
– yes, you can miss:
   • friends
   • geographical features (eg. mountains)
   • nature: birds, deer etc.
   • memories (childhood)
   • roots

-quotes from books:
   • “…began to think about his own childhood. He thought about his old friends.” (17).
   • “He remembered the mountains and rivers of his home… surrounded himself with songbirds, but he could not forget.” (18).
   • “…he could wait no more.” (19).
   • “…the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.” (31).
   • When he returns to Japan, is reunited with his friends, and sees all the rivers and mountains he loves, he is jubilant. (20, 21).

    I definitely believe that people can move to other countries and still be homesick, based on this picture book and based on my personal experience. In Grandfather’s Journey (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993), the grandfather is raised in a small village in Japan. Once he grows to be a young man, he boards a steamship and heads to North America. He tours the continent by train, riverboat, and on foot, amazed by deserts, endless farm fields, and outstanding architecture amongst huge cities. He is astonished by high mountains and crystal clear rivers. The grandfather befriends men from all over the world and travels to new places like the Sierra Mountains. Despite the remarkable surprises of his new country, after his marriage and the birth of his daughter, he feels a desire to go back to his home village in Japan. He misses “the mountains and rivers of [his] childhood”, and yearns to meet with his old friends (31). Eventually, after arriving at a new location, his excitement of the unique architecture and gigantic mountains wears off, leaving the grandfather with an empty space in his heart. An empty space where Japan lies. Although someone can try and fill that gap by attempting to duplicate some of their memories from their old country, in their new country, it does not always work. In Japan, the grandfather lived with many songbirds, so in his new home in California he does the same, “but he could not forget.” (18). After moving to a new country, thoughts of your previous homeland invade your mind and you cannot forget about your childhood memories or old friends. This is the case for the grandfather. His desperation is too strong so he moves back to his small village in Japan, and the jubilance is overwhelming. Although at the beginning, the grandfather makes the choice to move to California, after the excitement, surprise, and astonishment wears off, he is very homesick, to such an extent, that he has to move back to Japan. Being homesick is an interesting feeling because as the grandson says, “…the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.” (31).

            I stand by my opinion that people can still be homesick after moving to another country, specifically because I have a personal connection. I was born in Huddersfield, England and at the age of three, our family packed our bags and headed to Canada. I remember the excitement I felt for things that are just regular to me now. For example, England is tiny compared to Canada; the roads here are three times the size of British roads and English houses are like doll houses compared to Canadian ones. Also, I found mountains remarkable! Their tall structure shocked me because I was used to tiny hills. All of the amazing features of Canada made the thought of England totally slip my mind, but once I got used to the spectacular features, I definitely felt homesick. The truth hit me that we were never going back to our old house, and that thought dug a pit in my stomach. I loved my house, I had a bunk bed, a favourite couch, and a cozy fireplace that I adored. My preschool was the best; I had kind teachers and amazing friends, who I had to leave behind, but most of all, I missed my family. In my first few years, my mom’s side of the family that lives in Huddersfield, were a huge part of my life. I probably saw them three times a week. My grandparents pampered me and my aunts and uncles played with me all the time. One of my cousins, who is only eighteen days older than me, used to prance around with me all the time. Moving to Canada meant leaving all of these things that I love, behind. Eventually, the excitement of my new Canadian surroundings faded away, and I was extremely homesick, so yes I do believe that people can be homesick after moving to a new country. Although, it does get easier. Once routine falls into place and you have lived somewhere for a while, the homesick feeling fades away, but it still always remains. We have lived in Canada for ten years now, and I do not think that I would want to move back to England, but that does not mean I am not homesick. I love going back to visit my birth country, but I am settled now and I have new amazing friends and a new favourite restaurant. The adjustment for my family and I was easier than it was for the grandfather in Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say. I believe that is because, he was travelling alone where as it was the four of us for my family. I know from personal experience that people who move to new countries do feel homesick, but that does not mean that they always return to where they came from. In my situation, eventually everything balanced out; we learned to love the new place that we came to, but we still miss things from our past.

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