Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Picture Book
What did you like about the book? This is a warm and realistic look at immigration. Hee Jun’s family must adjust when they move from Korea to West Virginia. Hee Jun goes from being an ordinary “regular boy” to being different because “My eyes are not big and round like everyone else’s. And my hair does not tumble in thick curls or make a golden halo around my head.” His grandmother has the opposite experience going from a teacher of great respect in Korea to being isolated in the U.S. “In West Virginia, my grandmother stays at home, and she does not hold her shoulders erect and her eyes don’t gleam – not at all.” But over time, the whole family begins to adjust to their new way of life. Hee Jun begins to speak more words in English although “…they still feel like stones, heavy in my mouth.” His grandmother begins to help his little sister adjust in school. She also learns English at naptime and offers her wisdom to the young teacher. In the end, Hee Jun finds flower that grows in both Korea and West Virginia, the rose of Sharon or “mugunghwa” blossom. Grandmother calls it “a piece of home.” The soft watercolor illustrations perfectly complement the gentleness of the story. This is a lovely story for any child just arriving in the country. It is a nice touch that all of the family members must learn to adjust, not just Hee Jun. Any child who has had to move will identify with Hee Jun.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? This is a perfect story book to give to any child who has immigrated to the U.S. Any child who has ever faced a move would also identify with Hee Jun and his family.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture Books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA
Date of review: 6/14/16