Monday, June 27, 2022



Lion Needs a Shot.

By Hyewon Yum. Illus. by the author

May 2022. 40p. Abrams, $16.99 (9781419748295). PreS–Gr. 1 

In this charming follow-up to Lion Needs a Haircut (2020), Daddy Lion hesitantly tells cubs Luka and Lulu that it’s time to visit the doctor for a checkup. Luka, as the older sibling, explains what Lulu can expect during her first visit—having the doctor listen to her heart with stethoscope, getting measured, and (gulp!) getting a shot. Their appointment goes smoothly until Dr. Brown arrives with their shots, triggering Luka’s own fear and thoughts of escape, until he remembers he needs to be brave for Lulu. He takes his shot like a champ, and Lulu models his behavior, both of them earning stickers from Dr. Brown for being such good patients. Yum’s sweet illustrations are softly rendered in colored pencils, and their childlike quality is a perfect match for the story. It strikes a reassuring tone for little ones anxious about doctor visits or getting shots (“They keep you from getting sick! . . . [And] you get a really nice sticker.”), while also demonstrating a loving sibling relationship.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022


 «SOMETIMES I GRUMBLESQUINCH by Rachel Vail; illus. by Hyewon Yum

40p. Scholastic. Jul. 2022. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338751161


PreS-Gr 2–Self-described “really nice kid” Katie Honors always aims to please. Polite, well-behaved, and flexible, she earns compliments from her parents: “Katie is such a pleasure.” The reality beneath this veneer of perfection, of course, is a range of emotions, positive and negative. Her toddler brother Chuck has a knack for provoking her in small ways that her mother and father either overlook or minimize with platitudes: “You don’t mind, do you?” and “Chuck loves you!” Since her appearance as the protagonist of Vail’s Sometimes I’m Bombaloo, Katie has learned to suppress her feelings by “grumblesquinching,” her idiosyncratic term for bottling up anger and sadness inside. After her pent-up frustration finally explodes in the form of a tantrum, she fears that she has irreparably damaged her parents’ opinion of her. To her relief, her mother responds not with judgment but with warm understanding—she is accepted, anger and all. Vail creates a strikingly honest portrait of family relationships, sensitively probing the all-too-common adult habit of using praise to avoid uncomfortable but necessary emotional dialogue. Yum’s bright, expressive colored pencil drawings cleverly externalize the progression of Katie’s emotional response: as she loses her composure, strands of her hair begin to float up into sinister tentacles, and the image on her shirt subtly shifts from a rainbow to a storm cloud. VERDICT This tender, insightful exploration of childhood emotion and respectful parenting is an important purchase for all collections.

–Jonah Dragan


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Horn Book Review

 Luli and the Language of Tea

by Andrea Wang; illus. by Hyewon Yum Preschool Porter/Holiday 40 pp. g
5/22 978-0-8234-4614-8 $18.99

While adults attend an ESL class, their children go to a playroom next door. The room is full but quiet; no one speaks the same language, and all the kids play separately. On a recent visit, young Luli had drawn a picture about an idea she had, and today her backpack holds a thermos, a teapot, a tea canister, and some teacups. As Miss Hirokane watches, Luli puts some tea leaves in the pot and pours in the “steaming hot” water, her tongue sticking out in careful concentration. She calls “cha!” (Chinese for tea), and everyone responds with their own words for tea (each word is spelled out and printed phonetically). All gather at the table, where Luli pours tea into cups that get passed around. When there isn’t enough left for herself, the kids pass her empty cup around, each pouring in a little tea from their own. After tea it’s time for cookies, and with that, “the playroom was no longer quiet.” Tea drinking everywhere celebrates community and togetherness; Wang (Watercress rev. 3/21) has cleverly re-created (and diversified) that ritual in a microcosm. Yum’s (Saturday Is Swimming Day, rev. 7/18) overhead view of the table shows smiling faces and varied skin tones, and her illustrations make clear that the Asian teacups with no handles are perfect for small hands— and safe (if it’s cool enough to hold, it’s cool enough to drink). An appended note describes tea drinking in the ten countries represented, including Iran, Kenya, and Chile, while teacups from each country decorate the endpapers. JENNIFER MBRABANDER

Friday, June 3, 2022

Star from Shelf Awareness


In her author's note, Andrea Wang (Magic RamenWatercress), the daughter of Chinese immigrants, recalls her wonderment at learning that the word for "tea" is similar in many languages: "Why was this?" Readers of her gladdening picture book Luli and the Language of Tea, illustrated by Hyewon Yum (Saturday Is Swimming DayNot Little), don't need to know why to grasp Wang's message: that generosity can be a universal language.

In "the playroom" (a childcare classroom per a sign by the door), Luli is surrounded by other kids who can't speak English, all of whom are playing alone. Today she has come prepared. From her backpack she produces tea-making gear; after she has set up, she calls "Chá!"--"tea" in Chinese. Upon recognizing the word "Chá!," the kids respond with the word for "tea" in their primary languages and then gather around Luli's table. She passes cups of tea to the child beside her, who passes them on and so forth, until... uh-oh: there's no tea for Luli! Happily, the kids have a solution. By story's end, "Luli's teapot was empty, but her heart was full."

Yum demonstrates her facility with colored pencils in Luli'sclassroom scenes and endpapers, in which a glorious spread captures an assortment of teacups, each decorated in a style suited to the country it represents. But the book's most pleasing illustrations are the aerial views of the kids sitting at Luli's table; the intricately decorated teapot may be the centerpiece, but Luli is the star. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author