About The Book

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.

About The Author

Photo Credit:

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 MeSail AwayBeautiful BlackbirdBeat the Story-Drum, Pum PumLet It ShineAshley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

About The Illustrator

Photo Credit:

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 MeSail AwayBeautiful BlackbirdBeat the Story-Drum, Pum PumLet It ShineAshley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (October 1, 2019)
  • Length: 112 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534404908
  • Grades: 5 and up
  • Ages: 10 - 99
  • Lexile ® 990L

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

"So many unique yet universal aspects of the human experience are touched upon in this lovingly shared memoir.... Watching Bryan generously transform the bittersweet into beauty is watching the meaning of art."

– Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*"A fascinating nontraditional narrative that gives penetrating glimpses of the army experience."

– BCCB, starred review

*"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."

– Publishers Weekly, starred review

*"A striking exhibition of a master artist and national treasure."

– Shelf Awareness, starred review

"The dynamic book design and lavish production choices make this a fully immersive experience. The ultimate gift book."

– Horn Book Magazine

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Ashley Bryan