Sunday, March 28, 2021

NYT review


Written by Hope Lim
Illustrated by Hyewon Yum

“I fly like a bird on Daddy’s bike,” the narrator joyfully croons as we watch father and daughter whizz through a coastal, colored-penciled town. “CA-CAW!” she calls, and “the birds sing back.” We smell the sea air and feel the salty breeze. Suddenly she spies “a woman with a blue coat and a big bag … walking very fast,” and clutches her dad’s sweatshirt, as gouache graffiti demons appear on a wall and a graphite shadow joins the gray-haired figure like an evil twin. Yet there she is one day in the park, “whispering a song to the birds!” Lim’s text and Yum’s art soar as the two “see” each other at last.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

WSJ review!

 Paying attention to the small things in life has become something of a national pastime during the pandemic. Bruce Handy honors the quiet fluctuations of childhood days in “The Happiness of a Dog With a Ball in Its Mouth” (Enchanted Lion, 56 pages, $18.95), a picture book with beguiling colored-pencil illustrations by Hyewon Yum. The book toggles back and forth between moments: “The indignity of a cut” on a skinned knee gives way to the satisfying “happiness of a scab.” A little later, we see a child splayed out on a chair, face upturned with exasperation and ennui: “The boredom of nothing to do.” On the facing page, the same child lies spread-eagled and beatific on a picnic blanket: “The happiness of nothing to do.” In topic and rhythm this wonderful book brings to mind Ruth Krauss’s 1952 classic, “A Hole Is to Dig,” illustrated with sturdy, tumbling little children by the young Maurice Sendak. But “The Happiness of a Dog With a Ball in Its Mouth” has a restful and contemplative quality that makes it, this year especially, feel like just the thing for 3- to 8-year-olds and their families.

Monday, March 22, 2021

from Booklist

Grandpa across the Ocean.

By Hyewon Yum. Illus. by the author

Apr. 2021. 42p. Abrams, $16.99 (9781419742255). PreS–Gr. 1 

A little boy is taken “across the ocean” to visit his grandpa in Korea, where everything is unfamiliar. Left alone together, the two appear to have no connection. The boy finds his grandpa’s house boring, so he starts kicking a ball around to entertain himself, which leads to an accident when a flowerpot breaks. This seems to spark an awareness in Grandpa that he needs to interact with his grandson. They both make an effort, and as things improve, it turns out that the two have lots of things in common after all. Yum’s (Lion Needs a Haircut, 2020) cheerful colored-pencil illustrations mirror the text, with facial expressions adding a layer of emotion as the relationship builds toward a happy conclusion. This is a simple story with an important message that young readers and their caregivers will appreciate: take a little time, make a little effort, and all will be well.

Grandpa Across the Ocean review

 The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:

Yum, Hyewon Grandpa Across the Ocean; written and illus. by Hyewon Yum.

Abrams, 2021 [40p]

Trade ed. ISBN 9781419742255 $16.99

E-book ed. ISBN 9781647003128 $15.29

Reviewed from digital galleys    R 3-6 yrs

Our young protagonist and his mother are off for a whole summer’s visit with his grandpa, who lives across the ocean in a place where everything “smells strange.” The visit starts off badly, since the two can’t really communicate and “Grandpa’s house is the most boring place on earth.” Soon, though, the two are connecting; the boy learns some Korean, they discover their commonalities (a love of chocolate and of goofing around on the beach), and by the time the summer ends, Grandpa’s place “feels like home” and the boy can’t wait for next summer. This kind of cross-cultural cross-generational relationship is popping up in picture books more often (Yee’s My Day with Gong Gong, BCCB 11/20, and LĂȘ’s Drawn Together, BCCB 6/18); this version is particularly gentle and patient, allowing a whole summer’s worth of bonding to believably happen while compressing events sufficiently to retain interest. Colored pencil illustrations have an appealing childlike touch in their scrawled textures, and they glow with summery color, with lots of sunny orange and picturesque ocean blues. The boy’s poses tell much of the story, from his initial reluctant dragging behind his mother to his closing all-encompassing hug with Grandpa. Use this to prepare kids for their own visits with faraway grandparents or just to demonstrate how an initially strange place can turn to home. 


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Grandpa Across the Ocean review from Kirkus


Author: Hyewon Yum
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum
Pages: 40
Price ( Hardcover ): $16.99
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-4197-4225-5

A summer spent in Korea with Grandpa provides growth for a little Korean American child.

A little black-haired Asian child wheels a blue suitcase through the city, craning to take in the new sights and sounds of a foreign land. This is where Grandpa lives. “It smells strange. It sounds strange.” With a sad face, the child tries to adjust to this new place, giving a firsthand account of trials suffered. When an accident caused by frustration and boredom surprises both grandfather and grandchild, there is a reckoning of sorts. Guilty feelings on both sides lead to new behaviors. This kid is possibly the same child from Yum’s previous title Puddle (2016), and the theme of overcoming cranky behavior repeats as well. With the same warmhearted care, the child is helped through the adjustment of having a relationship with a loving relative who lives across the ocean. Illustrated with colored pencil, the scenes are light and filled with patience and love. The grandfather is frequently shown at the same eye level as the child, highlighting the importance of physical connection. An effort is made to translate simple Korean words to English, and many will recognize the awkward feeling of understanding a different culture. Hopefully, readers will appreciate the importance of an affectionate relationship between grandparent and grandchild. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.8% of actual size.)

A reminder that love and attention can bolster relationships separated by time and distance. (Picture book. 3-8.)