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.

Raves and Reviews

"Narrator Dion Graham embodies the award-winning illustrator Ashley Bryan in this WWII memoir. Eighteen-year-old Bryan was in art school when he was drafted into an all-black battalion and sent to fight with Allied troops on D-Day. His passion for art helped him manage the horrors of war as well as the racism of white officers. The print version of this audiobook includes original photographs, handwritten letters, and sketches. Graham modulates his voice to differentiate between the narrative and the interspersed letters to re-create the intimate feeling of a scrapbook. Listeners will be especially moved by the emotion in Graham's voice as the author describes the psychological and physical toll of war in his letters to his cousin Eva, and one particularly moving letter to his pastor."

– AudioFile Magazine

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