Friday, August 2, 2013

Horn book review



by Hyewon Yum; illus. by the author

Preschool, Primary    Foster/Farrar    40 pp.

8/13    978-0-374-37487-7    $16.99    g

A young girl describes her home in terms of her family’s history, starting with, “This is the house where my grandparents arrived from far away with just two suitcases in hand.” The girl associates tangible aspects of the house and neighborhood (a tree, the street, the stairs) with meaningful kid-milestones and memories such as her mother learning to walk on the sidewalk outside the building. Time passes; Mom leaves for college, then returns “with the boyfriend who would be my father.” The young couple moves in, and new memories and milestones are celebrated, but some things remain constant (“This is the street where I learned to walk, just like my mom”). Yum’s rosy-cheeked, smiling characters and bright, expressive mixed-media illustrations (line and watercolor wash with homey smudges of crayon or pastel), some of which are set up in picture frames to reinforce the family-history theme, offer visual warmth to complement the comfortingly circular narrative arc. This is an immigrant tale, a celebration of family, a loving ode to place, and a study of the passage of time, all wrapped in a simply phrased narrative perfect for parental sharing and child commentary. claire e. gross

Booklist review

This Is Our House.

Yum, Hyewon (Author) , Yum, Hyewon (Illustrator)

Aug 2013. 40 p. Farrar/Frances Foster, hardcover, $16.99. (9780374374877).

Yum’s latest resembles a photo album and follows a little girl offering up a historical tour of the house she

shares with her parents, grandparents, and cat. She starts at the beginning, when her mother’s parents

“arrived from far away with just two suitcases in hand.” On one side of the spread (here and throughout

the book) is a watercolor framed like a photograph; the other side reveals a more complete view from the

same time period. The story continues, inside and in front of the two-story attached home, through her

mother’s childhood, departure for college, and return with “the boyfriend who would be my father.” Yum

depicts the girl’s grandparents as warm and welcoming, even as nervous new parents, and the girl’s

parents convey the same loving concern for their child. Some of the “framed” images pop up again on

walls in later pages, suggesting how the young narrator learned the history she’s relaying. Even before the

baby sibling is introduced on the last spread, this is a sweet tribute to continuity and togetherness.

— Abby Nolan

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review from NYT

Home is also at the heart of two new picture books, “This Is Our House,” written and illustrated by Hyewon Yum, and “Once Upon a Northern Night,” written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (whose artwork for Trottier’s “Migrant” earned a New York Times Best Illustrated award). Yum, originally from South Korea but now living in Brooklyn, sets her story in a city that could very well be New York, among a family of recent immigrants whose country of origin is never specified; Pendziwol and Arsenault, both Canadian, describe a cozy home in a wintry rural landscape.
On the title page of “This Is Our House,” a watercolor illustration shows a photograph of a little girl peeking her head around a front door, as if to welcome the reader inside. On the next, a framed black and white photograph — again painted in watercolor — shows the house as it looked when her grandparents “arrived from far away with just two suitcases in hand.” In a pattern Yum continues throughout the book, the photo of the house is faced by a full-page scene. Here, the girl’s grandparents talk to each other as they stand outside their new home for the first time. The grandmother looks as if she is either shyly pleased, or hesitant. What is certain is her husband’s encouraging smile.
The photos reveal the public story, Yum seems to suggest, but there’s more to be told. And sure enough, the full-page scenes are intimate rather than posed: moments of action, and sometimes of crossness and tears; a little quarrel over the painting of the baby’s room on one side of the spread, a photo of the delighted expectant mother posing in a fully decorated room on the other. Mostly, the three generations who come to live in the house together display smiles and kind concern for one another.
Yum uses a springlike palette of yellow, pinks and greens, even when there’s snow on the sidewalk, and the little girl’s dark braids perfectly set off the fresh, happy colors. With time, the once-bare facade of the house comes to life with window boxes, flowering hedges and potted plants of the front stoop. The seasons cycle though the pictures as the family grows, including, at the end, a baby brother for the little narrator. She gives a slight twist to the book’s title in her final summary: “This is our home where my family lives.”

Monday, July 29, 2013

Review from WSJ

Wall Street Journal

July 27, 2013


Hyewon Yum depicts actual picture frames on the gentle pages of "This Is Our House" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 40 pages, $16.99), but with its sherbet colors and comforting domesticity, this picture book for small children stands in almost comical contrast to tales of swashbuckling. Here we are in total safety, in the brick row house where a little girl lives with her family. "This is the house where my grandparents arrived from far away," the child explains, as we see a framed drawing of the house in winter. Soon an infant arrives—a girl who will grow up to be the narrator's mother—as a lovely tree blossoms on the street outside.

As befits a book for the very young, this quiet chronicle moves in a circular way, like a literary hug. As the child explains the history of the house, from the kitchen ("where her mother made my mom's favorite soup") to the front steps ("where we sit in the sun on autumn days"), we see time passing, until a fresh cycle is complete and a newborn arrives to turn the young narrator into a big sister.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

SLJ's review for This is Our House

School Library Journal

July 2013


YUM, Hyewon. This Is Our House. illus. by author. 40p. Farrar/Frances Foster. Aug. 2013. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-374-37487-7.

PreS-Gr 2–A girl describes her family history as it relates to her home: “This is the house where my grandparents arrived from far away….These are the front steps where my mom and her brothers played on warm summer days….This is the street where I learned to walk, just like my mom.” The snapshot quality of each statement is emphasized in the illustrations: each spread includes an informal slice-of-life scene as well as a framed picture of the relatives during that time. The cheerful pictures show a loving family enjoying life together, while seasonal changes and aging characters help show the passage of time. This is a story about nothing and about everything. There is no real plot or narrative, but it encompasses the lives of three generations. The intergenerational household may not be familiar to many modern American kids, but the idea of close family ties and treasured memories and places is universal. This quiet book could be an effective conversation starter about personal history at home or in the classroom.–Heidi Estrin, Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

Monday, July 1, 2013

this is YOUR house?

When I was a kid, I always loved to hear  my father's story. My father  has these most  interesting stories and he could describe all the things as if it's just happened right before my eyes. Oh, how I loved it...
I could imagine the scenery so well because my father is one great storyteller and also we'd visited the house he grew up every year for holidays.
In that old house, I could see my father, a young boy, walking out of the house with his lunch box(containing only rice and salted beans) wearing his big brother's worn out pants, past the big old tree.
It was such warm moments when I realized that I stand in the same place where my father, once a boy, had grown up.

Now I have my own kids,  I read books to them before bedtime, but sometimes I love to tell my stories starting with "When I was a little kid like you..." and my kids loves it, too.
I wanted to make a book that can lead another stories, your own stories. I hope after you close the book "THIS IS OUR HOUSE", you can tell your own stories to your children.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Starred review from Kirkus

Author: Hyewon Yum
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum
An ode to a place called home, related by a young girl describing photos of a brick building and the memories her family made there through three generations.

With the feeling of a photo album, the book leads readers through the story of a simple house. “This is the house / where my grandparents arrived from far away / with just two suitcases in hand.” On the left side of the page, above the text, is a painted “photograph” of an unassuming building—there’s no color, a bare tree, no life to be seen. On the facing page, the full-bleed illustration shows a man and a woman, holding hands, stepping up to the building with two suitcases in hand. Reflective and quiet, the pages progress with the staged photographs of this young couple’s life displayed on the left, while the right side reveals more. A baby is born and learns to walk, children pose on the stairs before school, a child leaves for college. When the perspective shifts to the narrator’s family, the pattern of the double-page spreads reverses itself in a lovely shift. The contrast between the simplicity of the text (“This is the street / where I learned to walk, / just like my mom”) and the richness of life revealed in the watercolor illustrations shows how the building becomes alive with the history of the young girl’s family.
A lovely, unassuming paean to place and belonging. (Picture book. 3-8)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When we tell our stories, we make power

My little one is graduating from his preschool, and this is what they wrote on their t-shirts.
How simple, yet true.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review from PW (5/27/13)

This Is Our House
Hyewon Yum. FSG/Foster, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-37487-7
A small girl with twin braids narrates her family’s history with pride, starting with when her grandparents arrived at a brick rowhouse on a leafy street, coming from “far away with just two suitcases in hand.” Since then, three generations have marked the seasons and personal milestones outside the house’s front door (“This is the street where I learned to walk, just like my mom,” says the girl), found snug shelter within its walls (“This is the room where they all slept together on cold winter nights”), and consumed homemade soup in its kitchen. Told in sunny, openhearted watercolor vignettes and snapshotlike framed images, Yum’s (Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten!) story of how a house became a longtime home may feel exotic to readers whose own family histories are comparatively transient. But its essence will ring true, regardless: we’re connected not just by genes and bloodlines, but also by the places we share. An inviting personal history that would pair well with Jacqueline Woodson’s similarly themed This Is the Rope, also out this summer. Ages 3–8. Agent: Sean McCarthy, Sheldon Fogelman Agency. (Aug.)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hooray Parade's Stellar Review from PW

Joosse (Lovabye Dragon) celebrates imagination and a grandmother’s creativity in this carefree story loosely based on her children’s song, “Hip Hooray Parade.” Framed as a guessing game, the book has a sense of playfulness that derives from freewheeling verse, rhyme and repetition, and nonsense words. Much to the delight of her granddaughter, the contents of Gramma’s basket are gradually revealed when she hangs up a sheet and uses props to create shadows that hint at the identity of various animals (“Gallump gallump./ Can you guess what’s coming up?”). A page flip shows the entire animal in full color and high spirits: an elephant with “a pink and purple stripy trunk” balances on a ball; rhinoceri tethered to orange balloons float in the air; and a kangaroo and her joey are “a-rooting and a-tooting” their blue kazoos. Yum (Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten!) uses watercolors and linoleum block prints to create spare yet festive illustrations, which pop from the white backdrop. A jubilant parade led by Gramma and granddaughter caps off this rousing and affectionate romp. Ages 3–5. Illustrator’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sheldon Fogelman Agency. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/29/2013