A Piece of Home;
Hee Jun and his family move from Korea to West Virginia, and the adjustment is difficult. His new world is uncomfortably different, particularly the language: “My new classmates smile and talk, but it is a sharp noise. Their names sit like stones on my tongue.” When his little sister, Se Ra, pitches a fit at school, Hee Jun’s grand- mother begins accompanying her to smooth the transition. As the months pass, all three—Grandmother, Se Ra, and Hee Jun—slowly learn to be comfortable in their new environment and by the end of his first year, Hee Jun happily realizes that his new life in America has finally become “ordinary.” Watts presents an emotionally credible account of what life can be like for newcomers to a place and sensitively portrays Hee Jun’s experiences. There’s no single breakthrough moment for him but rather a series of small revelations that play out over a long time. Yum’s tidy watercolor illustrations feature her usual rosy-cheeked figures, and the art skill- fully conveys emotion, increasing the amount of background detail and using an ever-livelier palette as Hee Jun gradually settles into American life. Use possibilities abound for this thoughtful and thought-provoking title. JH
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Monday, June 20, 2016
A Piece of Home
Little is as earthshaking as the experience of starting over in not just a new house, but a new country. Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia for his father’s job. He can’t stand being so different from his classmates. English words “feel like stones, heavy in my mouth.” But gradually the strange becomes familiar, and a new friend’s kindness eases his homesickness. Watts’s elegant story and Yum’s soft, radiant art combine to make the book wrenching, hopeful and lovely in equal measure.