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How the World Was: A California Childhood Paperback – July 15, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • How the World Was: A California Childhood
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Total price: $54.09
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Editorial Reviews

Review

How the World Was is a companion graphic biography to Guibert's Alan's War.” ―VOYA

“This is a magical and important work of art.” ―Publisher's Weekly, starred review

“This epic graphic memoir spans oceans and generations, with a narrative as engrossing as the artistry that illustrates it.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review for Alan's War

“Guibert's fluid, simple but assured linework captures the personalities of Cope and his friends, elevating the material to a far more affecting level.” ―Publisher's Weekly, starred review for Alan's War

About the Author

New York Times-Bestselling author Emmanuel Guibert has written a great many graphic novels for readers young and old, among them the Sardine in Outer Space series, The Professor's Daughter with Joann Sfar, the critically acclaimed WWII biography Alan's War, and the New York Times-bestselling The Photographer with Didier Lefevre. His most recent graphic novel is a prequel to Alan's War, How the World Was. Guibert lives in Paris with his wife and daughter.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; First Edition edition (July 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596436646
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596436640
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is an English translation of a work first published in French. Unlike a typical graphic novel that uses dialog balloons, How the World Was is more of an illustrated short story. Sometimes text appears in the same panel as an image; sometimes blocks of text take up panels or pages that alternate with panels or pages consisting only of images. Some of the images depict the scene described in the text while others add background. They tend to be studies in contrasts: quiet streets of the 1930s versus modern freeways, unspoiled nature versus the urbanization that replaced it. The pictures serve as pauses between the short blocks of text, creating the feel of a documentary.

The first person narration tells the childhood tale of a boy born in 1925 as he grew up in Southern California -- a simpler California than the one that exists today. His quiet memories are occasionally updated to let the reader know what happened to friends and relatives (mostly, they died "in poverty and in sorrow"). Some of the images are drawings of family photographs and in many ways, the story is the narration of a family album.

The story is told in a gentle, honest voice that accentuates its depth of feeling. Reading How the World Was is like listening to a beloved grandfather explain the joys and hardships of his family's life and his own awe of the ever-changing world. The narrator has learned to live with grief but the grief lives on in his memory. He cannot change the hard times -- that's how the world was -- but they have taught him to appreciate life. When he quotes Rodin's belief that artists experience pain as well as "the bitter joy of being able to comprehend and express it," Emmanuel Guibert is clearly talking about the effort he devoted to this volume. How the World Was is a surprisingly moving story and a remarkably effective feat of story-telling.
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I can't believe the one review on this book is so poor. It has prompted me to add my two cents worth. Perhaps since the other reviewer's childhood was in roughly the same time and place, he didn't find it interesting, but for a Midwestern baby boomer, this was fascinating stuff. The subject of the book was born in 1925. This was my parents' generation; they also grew up during the Depression, although in Kentucky rather than California. Reading this book felt rather like listening to a relative's stories of life in the "olden days". The subject had remembered lots of quirky little details, which were meticulously recorded in text and illustrations by the author. The result is just enchanting. You are truly transported into another time, another life. I really can't recommend this book highly enough; I'd give it ten stars if I could.
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This is an excellent and affecting story of a Southern California boyhood. It is notable not only for its vision of a landscape which has vanished in Southern California but also in its depiction of people's lives in the inter-war era of the '20s and '30s. Guibert's drawings accompany a narrative by Alan Cope which tells of his own history and that of both of his parents and some of their ancestors, such as a grandfather on his mother's side who had fought in the Civil War and in the Indian Wars.

The '20s and '30s were an era in which America and Southern California became recognizably 'modern' in many ways, but which in others, such as the primitive standard of medicine, was still mired in the past, with tragic consequences for Cope and his mother. For those interested in regional history and in a sense of the rhythms, the joys and tragedies of the everyday life of this period, Cope's memoir is a rewarding read and very much recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Entirely Engrossing! This is the prequel to "Alan's War", which I haven't read yet. Written in a first person perspective, it is the story of Alan Cole's life growing up, and his family's, during the Great Depression. A touching story from a man with deep insight into the human condition. Rivetting. Guibert's art is fantastic! Though I haven't read "Alan's War", I have read "The Photographer" and the style is similar to it. Guibert uses his own pencil sketches plus actual photographs along with a unique process whereby he combines photographs into sketches, sometimes leaving some of the photo behind, other times, completely turning it into a sketch. Loved every single thing about this historical memoir.
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I loved this book. I loved the illustrations. The tone was gentle and sweet. Everything about this book is a terrific experience.
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