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 Lê’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.