Cover image for 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
Physical Description:
107 pages : illustrations, map ; 27 x 29 cm

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Recipient of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator 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.

Author Notes

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he was recently named a Newbery Honoree for his picture book, Freedom Over Me . He has also been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King--Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award; the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; has been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer; a Coretta Scott King Award winner; and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Freedom Over Me ; Sail Away ; Beautiful Blackbird ; Beat the Story-Drum, Pum Pum ; Let It Shine ; Ashley Bryan's Book of Puppets ; and What a Wonderful World . He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.)

Horn Book Review

Ashley Bryan was a nineteen-year-old art student when he was drafted into a segregated army unit of stevedores, where he used every opportunity to sketch and record his experiences, from training to D-Day and its aftermath. Bryan's present-day text serves as a kind of voice-over to the scores of images included: original paintings and drawings, letters, journal passages, photos, maps, and army posters. This wealth of overlapping visual elements could have resulted in a cluttered presentation; instead, the dynamic book design and lavish production choices make this a fully immersive experience. The ultimate gift book for Ashley Bryan fans. (Some of this material can be seen in "Ashley Bryan's WWII Drawings" by H. Nichols B. Clark in our May/June 2018 issue.) Lolly Robinson November/December 2019 p.131(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Renowned artist and children's-book creator Bryan shares his journey through World War II.Best known for his brightly colored paintings of flowers and joyful scenes, here Bryan shares a part of his life that was less bright. Bryan was in his third year of art school when he was recruited to join the U.S. Army in 1943. Training for service in an all-black battalion, being deployed to Europe to fight with the Allied Forces on D-Day, and spending months trying to get his men back homethese experiences did not stop Bryan from pursuing his development as an artist. He was always drawing and sketching, and his fellow soldiers and even some of his superiors encouraged him to do so. His years in the Army are effectively detailed in a multimedia format that has the intimate feel of a scrapbook being shared by the author. The main text is a retrospective narration surrounded by extensive primary documents: old photographs and documents, handwritten letters (whose contents are also set in a small blue type for easier reading), paintings, and sketches, both standing alone and overlaid on top of photographs. So many unique yet universal aspects of the human experience are touched upon in this lovingly shared memoir: the passion that kept an artist going through the most difficult times, the contradictions of war against Nazism with segregation at home and within the U.S. Army.Watching Bryan generously transform the bittersweet into beauty is watching the meaning of art. (note, sources, index) (Memoir. 10-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.