Tuesday, October 24, 2023

review from PW

 Night Song

Mk Smith Despres, illus. by Hyewon Yum.

In this lyrically told be-yourself story, a

frog named Bernardo longs to join the

birds whose dawn song inspires the sun,

which in turn "gently unfolded the flowers,

dried the night-damp stones, and leaned

across the backs of the leaves to dance across

the forest floor." The pleasure that other

creatures take in this beauty ("The fishes

in the pond swam in the song, the drag-

onflies hummed along") spur Bernardo's

desire to sing like the birds. "I'd like to do

that.... I'd like to make the whole woods


happy," he thinks. But attempts to

become more avian-adorning himself in

colorful leaves, ascending a tree--are met

with stern looks. The frog's perspective

doesn't shift until a small friend reminds

Bernardo of the role he plays in another

musical drama: the dusk song that puts

the woods to sleep. Assured lines by

debut creator Smith Despres convey the

wonder of change brought by the day':

rhythms, while limpid colored pencil,

watercolor, and ink spreads by Yum (Luli

and the Language of Tea) deliver giggles and

render subtly changing light and color in

this hymn to contemplating one's 

Review from Kirkus


Author: Mk Smith Despres
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum

Review Issue Date: November 15, 2023
Online Publish Date: October 21, 2023
Publisher:Enchanted Lion Books
Pages: 52
Price ( Hardcover ): $18.95
Publication Date: January 9, 2024
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 9781592703944
Section: Children's

Despite great effort, Bernardo the frog just can’t find a place in the morning chorus.

Bernardo knows his song sounds “like wood and nighttime and things inside of other things.” But he loves the way the birds sing to the sun to unfold the flowers and send leaves “to dance across the forest floor.” He finds it so lovely that he tries to join in by donning a silly bird disguise made of leaves and berries. Alas, he looks ridiculous to the creatures around the pond; nor do they appreciate his efforts to climb a tree and then dance awkwardly across flower tops. By the time he gives up, the sun has traveled across the sky, and he feels too discouraged to listen to the crickets, the blackbirds, and the other frogs in their evening chorus—until, that is, he hears a snail marvel at “the song that lulls the woods to sleep.” Using a mix of watercolor, colored pencil, and ink, Yum illustrates Despres’ lilting, sonorous text with idyllic scenes of songbirds and waterfowl, butterflies and dragonflies, amid verdant tufts of greenery and sprays of flowers. As the day passes and the tonal palette dims subtly from bright day to a cool blue star-flecked night, one last view leaves the small frog with eyes closed in blissful appreciation.

Poetic and peaceful: a natural for bedtime reading. (Picture book. 4-6)

Friday, August 11, 2023

review from Shelf Awareness


SOMETIMES I KAPLOOM by Rachel Vail, illus. by Hyewon Yum (Orchard Books; August 1, 2023) was reviewed in the August 11, 2023 edition ofShelf Awareness.


Please see below and attached for the full review.


Sometimes I Kaploom

by Rachel Vail, illus. by Hyewon Yum


Prolific author Rachel Vail published Sometimes I'm Bombaloo in 2002, starring charmingly articulate Katie Honors. It became the first book in her Big Feelings series, with the publication of companion picture book Sometimes I Grumblesquinch following in 2022. Vail auspiciously partners again with her Grumblesquinch collaborator, Hyewon Yum, for Sometimes I Kaploom, a delightful reminder that being courageous doesn't mean you're not afraid.

Self-aware Katie knows she's "a really brave kid": she has a superhero stance, can climb high, risks small bites of "good for me food," and goes to bed "without even calling to be checked on" (more than twice). At school, however, she sometimes kaplooms. Saying "bye, I love you. See you soon" to her mother isn't always possible: "The roar inside me is so huge I have to open my mouth and let it out." Katie realizes, as she calms in her mother's lap, that she can be "brave and KAPLOOMING" at the same time. "So brave," her mother agrees, "especially while you KAPLOOM."

Yum's vibrant colored-pencil illustrations notably enhance Vail's encouraging, empowering narrative. Yum ingeniously turns Katie's t-shirt into a visual metaphor for Katie's feelings. The star on her shirt is an emotional barometer: its bright outlines disappear when Katie confronts "tingly smelling" breakfast, the star droops at the prospect of parental separation, becomes electrified as she kaplooms, and gains a rainbow trail as she recovers back to her superhero self. Vail ensures big feelings are thoroughly acknowledged; Yum's art assures Vail's words get empathically recognized. --Terry Hong, BookDragon

Orchard Books, $18.99, hardcover, 40p., 9781338840308


Monday, July 10, 2023

Star review from Booklist

 image.png SOMETIMES I KAPLOOM by Rachel Vail; Illus. by Hyewon Yum 

Aug. 2023. 40p. Scholastic/Orchard, $18.99 (9781338840308). PreS–Gr. 1 


Vail and Yum have here created a helpful book for parents and children dealing with separation anxiety. Climbing high on playground equipment, making an effort to eat new foods, and going to bed with only one nightlight and “without even calling to be checked on. Except once . . . maybe twice” are a few of the feats Katie performs as she practices being brave. When her mother prepares to leave her at preschool one morning, the girl’s attempts at bravery fail completely and she goes “KAPLOOM.” A fierce, full-blown tantrum takes over as Katie loses control, screaming, pulling at her hair, and hanging onto her mother. The girl dislikes feeling and behaving in this manner, but her emotions are difficult to control. Colored-pencil illustrations on white backgrounds clearly show Katie’s emotions when she is brave and when she is kaplooming. Her anguish and frustration are clearly conveyed with wide-open mouths, clenched fists, tightly shut eyes, and red faces, along with lightning bolts shooting from her body. The youngster’s anger and sadness slowly dissipate after her mother gently reassures her—“I’ll come back. I always come back.”—and explains it is possible to be “brave and sad” and “brave and scared” at the same time. Notes from the author and illustrator explain their experiences with their own children’s separation anxiety. — Maryann Owen




Comfort for both children and parents in an all-too-familiar situation.

It’s hard to stay brave when it’s time to say goodbye.

Katie Honors, whom readers may remember from Sometimes I Grumblesquinch (2022), is back. This time, she explains that she is a “really brave kid.” She stands proudly “like a superhero,” climbs high on the playground, and needs to be checked on at night only once…or twice. She can even hold in her tears when it’s time to say goodbye at what looks like preschool…at first. Yum’s familiar and comforting colored pencil drawings portray the inner emotions that belie Katie’s brave front as she says, “Bye, I love you. See you soon,” her face radiating pure misery and the cheery yellow star on her T-shirt drooping. Sometimes, however, she can’t contain those feelings and she KAPLOOMS. With her eyes squeezed shut, she grabs her mother, lets out a roar, and radiates lightning and sparks. She becomes unable to hear the voices around her. Her mother initially asks her to be brave but then changes tactics, simply holding Katie and acknowledging that bravery and sadness, tears, and fear are not exclusive—that you can be “brave and KAPLOOMING” at the same time. Her loving actions model a healthy response for adults and also validate children’s feelings during this rite of passage. Katie and her mother have straight dark hair, light skin, and dark dots for eyes. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfort for both children and parents in an all-too-familiar situation. (author’s and illustrator’s notes) (Picture book. 3-7)

Thursday, February 16, 2023

PW review


Ode to a Bad Day

Chelsea Lin Wallace, illus. by Hyewon Yum. Chronicle, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-79721-080-3

Rather than glorifying a specific topic, these odes narrated by a schoolchild bewail myriad small annoyances that can accompany a bad day. In early lines by Wallace (A Home Named Walter), even the morning’s first moments presage trouble: “Oh Bad Morning,/ eyes are crusty, bones are rusty./ Why do all my teeth feel dusty?” Watercolor and colored pencil spreads from Yum (Luli and the Language of Tea) show the child, portrayed with light skin and black hair, frowning amid snarled-up bedclothes. The room’s stuffed animals, together with a visiting cricket, give the child a collective side-eye. Brilliant pinks and oranges offer heightened energy to Yum’s consistently engaging spreads, while sensory-focused lines list the indignities of the day: someone cutting in the racially diverse classroom’s line, a missing pudding cup at lunch, a spoiled art project, and more. Each individual annoyance may seem small on its own (“Oh Hiccup,/ you interrupt hiccup/ my play with Nick hiccup”), but the cumulative irritations make the day a total write-off—though not without some reflection (“I’m so annoyed.../ but not destroyed”) and the promise of a better tomorrow. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary. (Apr.)

Review from BCCB

 Trade ed. ISBN 9781797210803$16.99

Reviewed from digital galleysR4-7 yrs

A morning of soggy cereal and itchy clothes is just the start of our pouty protagonist’s misery, and the day doesn’t get much brighter from there. The youngster laments their troubles as a hurried rush to school results in a skinned knee, a case of the hiccups interrupts playtime, and a missing pudding cup ruins lunch. An afternoon errand trip makes for some especially dramatic woes: “Oh, Boredom,/ I thought you’d left. Bye-bye. Shoo-shoo!/ You’re back again with more nothing to do./ A chore at the store?/ I fall to the floor!/ Snorrrrrrrrrre.” Kiddo makes it through a yucky dinner and the ever-arduous bedtime prep, ending the day with a snuggle with their caretaker and a hope that perhaps tomorrow will be better. The poetic structure and regal cadence lend the child’s voice a sense of polite formality, bringing ironic humor to her bad day histrionics, but the joke does not necessarily come at the youngster’s expense. Rather, repetitive address of the day’s various disappointments (“Oh you Ouchy,” “Oh you Hiccup”) acknowledges the plain old awfulness of the situation. Illustrations have a childlike draftsmanship, with dot-eyed faces and scribbly linework in colored pencil and watercolor, and the misery of our put-upon protagonist, with a constant frown and occasional wide-mouthed moan, is cleverly matched with bits of visual humor, including an expressive little cricket that follows the child through their travails. The book ends with hard-earned wisdom that even adults could use: “All day long/ my way went wrong./ I’m annoyed . . . / but not destroyed.”  KQG

Monday, February 6, 2023

Ode to A Bad Day



This is one bad day readers won’t mind reliving again and again.


It’s only fitting that a day this bad gets its own lyrical poem.

“Oh you Bad Morning.” Right from the start, a child who presents as Asian with straight black hair, peachy skin, and dots for eyes can tell it’s going to be a bad day. On most double-page spreads, rhyming lines in irregular meter convey the sensibility and grandeur of the traditional ode, glorifying a different aspect of the bad day. The verso describes the outrage (“Oh Too Much Milk in My Cereal, / soggy, squishy! Boggy, mushy! / You turned my crispy into gushy!”), while the recto declaims the lament (“Oh you Too Much Milk”). It is impressive how many despairing, outraged, and sad expressions Yum is able to give the young protagonist as the day progresses through each indignity, including itchy clothes, being late, dealing with a line cutter, and getting the hiccups. One particularly poignant illustration sees the child prone on the floor of a supermarket with one knee raised: “Oh you Boredom.” Not every rhyme is perfect, but the overall sentiment comes through loud and clear, and Yum’s soft watercolor and colored pencil artwork is a wonderful foil for the negative feelings. This is especially true as the day draws to a close, a new day is within sight, and more hopeful thoughts take over. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This is one bad day readers won’t mind reliving again and again. (Picture book. 4-8)