Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood

Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood

by James McMullan


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A memoir in paintings and words by internationally acclaimed illustrator, author, and teacher James McMullan.

A Booklist Top 10 Biography for Youth

“It is this dreamlike quality of my memories that I wanted to capture in some way in the paintings that accompany the text--to suggest in the images that the events occurred a long time ago in a simpler yet more exotic world, and that the players in that world, including me, are at a distance.”

Artist James McMullan’s work has appeared in the pages of virtually every American magazine, on the posters for more than seventy Lincoln Center theater productions, and in bestselling picture books. Now, in a unique memoir comprising more than fifty short essays and illustrations, the artist explores how his early childhood in China and wartime journeys with his mother influenced his whole life, especially his painting and illustration.

James McMullan was born in Tsingtao, North China, in 1934, the grandson of missionaries who settled there. As a little boy, Jim took for granted a privileged life of household servants, rickshaw rides, and picnics on the shore—until World War II erupted and life changed drastically. Jim’s father, a British citizen fluent in several Chinese dialects, joined the Allied forces. For the next several years, Jim and his mother moved from one place to another—Shanghai, San Francisco, Vancouver, Darjeeling—first escaping Japanese occupation then trying to find security, with no clear destination except the unpredictable end of the war. For Jim, those ever-changing years took on the quality of a dream, sometimes a nightmare, a feeling that persists in the stunning full-page, full-color paintings that along with their accompanying text tell the story of Leaving China.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616202552
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication date: 03/25/2014
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 527,029
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: NC1280L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

James McMullan is an internationally recognized designer and illustrator. His work has appeared in many notable books for adults and young readers. In 2002, McMullan received the New York Times Best Illustrated Book award for the picture book I Stink! He was an early member of the famed Pushpin Studios with Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast, as well as the developer of the High-Focus Drawing Program at the School of Visual Arts. His posters can be found at Triton Gallery in New York City.

Table of Contents

Throwing a Grape 4

The Two Houses 6

James and Lily Arrive 8

The Cemetery Tower 10

Saving the Babies 12

Building the Orphanage 14

Cutwork Embroidery 16

Lily Finds Buyers 18

The Four Siblings 20

James Jr. Brings Back a Bride 22

Life in Cheefoo 24

My Mother in the Garden 26

My Father at the Piano 28

The Musical 30

The American Navy Visits 32

The Drowned Man 34

The Japanese Army Arrives 36

The Japanese Commandant 38

The Road Blockades 40

The Night Runners 42

The Chinese Scrolls 44

The Costume Ball 46

At the Dock 48

USS President Coolidge 50

My Father Joins the British Army 52

White Houses and Green Lawns 54

Bad Nights in Grand Forks 56

The Wrong Accent 58

The Beautiful House 60

My Cousin Alan 62

The Moment on the Reef 64

The Russian Artist 66

Quartered in a Buddhist Temple 68

Leaving Salt Spring 70

The Vaulting Horse 72

Weekends with Rose 74

My Father Is Reassigned 76

Leaving New York 78

The Bombing Scare 80

The Garden on Malabar Hill 82

The Upper Bunk 84

The Houseboat 86

Be a Man! 88

Calisthenics 90

The Best Friend 92

Getting the News 94

General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart 96

The Flight 98

The Crazy City 100

My Mother's Admirers 102

Across the River 104

Mr. Ryan 106

On the USS Breckenridge 108

All the Rest, Very Briefly 110

Acknowledgments 112

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