Mommy’s Hometown by Hope Lim,  illustrated by Jamie Kim

Mommy’s Hometown by Hope Lim,  illustrated by Jamie Kim. Candlewick Press, 2022. 9781536213324

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  A little boy grows up hearing his mom tell stories about her childhood in Korea, in a village surrounded by fields and graced with a beautiful river. Imagine his excitement when he learns that they will visit this wonderful place! But when they arrive, the city has encroached and nothing remains of the pastoral beauty she’s described. Then one afternoon, they find the river, now bordered by a bike path. Even though so much has changed, the river is still lovely, and they take off their shoes to wade on the edges, joining the many other families walking, playing with their dogs, and pushing strollers. As they head home to dinner with Grandma, the boy imagines that his mom is a child again and that they are playing under the red sky as the sun sets. This is a sweet and gentle story about childhood memories, going home, and overcoming small disappointments. The digital illustrations are cute and slick, with the cityscape in particular providing lots of interesting urban details: an old house amid the modern skyscrapers, pedestrians of all ages, and Korean-language signs.  

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  A great recommendation for families planning a trip to an ancestral home, whether it’s inside the U.S. or farther afield. Single moms and others seeking diversity will appreciate the warmth between mom and son in this small family. Everyone appears to be Korean or Korean-American, so libraries looking for books with Asian characters will want to add this one.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: May 19, 2022

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