Friday, July 23, 2021 Florida Times-Union

"I Am a Bird"

Author: Hope Lim

Illustrator: Hyewon Yum

Candlewick Press, $16.99; ages 4 to 6

“I Am a Bird” tells the story of a girl who loves to make “ca-caw” sounds as she rides on the back of her father’s bike. This simple joy entertains the girl and causes people to smile and wave. Well, almost everyone.

“I see a woman with a blue coat and a big bag. She is walking very fast. She does not wave. She does not smile. The next morning, I see her again with the same blue coat, the same big bag. I do not smile. I do not wave.”

Each day, the girl does her bird calls until she spots the unresponsive woman in the distance. Eventually, she hides behind her father’s back when they approach the stranger.

“Daddy, I don’t like her.”

“She’s just a lady taking a walk.”

But what if she’s not?

Eventually comes a morning when the girl doesn’t see the lady walking. Instead, they spot her in the park. Her big bag is on the ground, and it’s open. When the bike approaches, the girl hears “chee, chee, chee.”

The girl realizes the lady is singing a song to the birds that have gathered. One even lands on the lady’s outstretched hand. What a charming sight.

“I turn and look until she sees me. I smile and wave. Ca-caw!"

"Chee, chee, chee.”

The simple premise of this debut picture book by Hope Lim offers a story that encourages young readers to reach out, even when differences seem intimidating. An unsmiling face could be a simple bird call away from a beaming expression of understanding. The detailed illustrations by Hyewon Yum add to the warm tone. Yum is an accomplished artist who writes and illustrates her own books, including “Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten,” which earned her the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021



Not Little

by Maya Myers, illus. by Hyewon Yum


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Small and little do not mean the same thing. Ask the spunky protagonist of debut author Maya Myers's Not Little. Sure, she'll admit, "I am the smallest person in my family." And add, "Even my name is small: Dot." But whether at rest or play, in the kitchen or outside, Dot is mighty capable. Author/illustrator Hyewon Yum (Saturday Is Swimming Day) makes delightfully, whimsically certain that Dot takes up plenty of energetic space with her vibrant personality and independent tenacity.

Dot is "the smallest person in [her] class." Wherever she goes she finds she must prove again and again, "I may be small, but I'm not little." And then a new boy appears at school. What Dot instantly notices is that Sam "might even be smaller" than she is. She attempts to sidle up to him to compare heights but doesn't want to frighten him. In the lunchroom, however, she proves plenty scary when a lunchroom bully tries "mean boy" tactics on innocent Sam. Suddenly, she might be "the biggest kid [Sam's] ever met," especially when it comes to standing tall against adversity.

Myers clearly channels her elementary school teaching experience in creating Dot and Sam's recognizable exchanges about unfamiliar classrooms and playgrounds, tiptoeing through social dynamics and navigating new relationships. Yum's enchanting color-pencil illustrations elevate Myers's text with ingenious visual enhancements. On every page, Yum includes diverse faces: the opening spread shows Dot's family with parents and grandparents of ethnically different backgrounds. She also imbues characters with energy and motion and her ample use of white space allows them to take center stage. By book's end, Dot proves her whole small body has a mighty big voice that will be heard. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: Dot, the delightful protagonist, might be small, but certainly not little as she takes on doubters and even a bully in this charming picture book.

Friday, July 2, 2021

WSJ review


Illustration by Hyewon Yum from ‘Not Little.’

  • TEXT

When you are a child, it is irksome when adults mistake you for being younger than you are. It’s even more galling if you are a child of small stature, for it may be your misfortune, as it is for the heroine of “Not Little” (Neal Porter, 38 pages, $18.99), to be taken as some kind of infant. “People look at me and ask if I’m in preschool,” the girl, Dot, complains in Maya Myers’s lively and understanding text. “At restaurants, they laugh when I order from the grown-up menu.” In Hyewon Yum’s colorful and expressive illustrations, we see why Dot says she’s small but not little: She’s brimming with vigor and personality.

One day at school there’s a newcomer named Sam, and he’s even smaller than Dot. A school bully takes note. In the cafeteria, the mean boy looks at Sam’s lunch: “That must be baby food.” Outraged, Dot intervenes in such a forceful way that she silences the place. In the aftermath, readers ages 4 to 8 see the bully taken aside by a teacher (turns out that he’s pretty small, too) and the start of a new friendship for two children who are emphatically not little.