cover image Seesaw Girl

Seesaw Girl

Linda Sue Park. Clarion Books, $14 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-395-91514-1

This first novel set in 17th-century Korea centers on 12-year-old Jade Blossom, daughter of one of the king's advisers. With all the temerity of a 1990s girl, Jade plays tricks on her brother (with the help of her cousin Willow), and her yearning to see the world outside of her family's walled household ultimately leads her into trouble. She conceals herself in a basket on market day and catches her first glimpse of the mountains as well as a group of imprisoned Dutch sailors, whom she describes as wearing what looks like ""yellow or brown sheep's wool on their cheeks and chins."" Park manages to get across many of society's restrictions on girls and women, but often relies on telling rather than showing. For example, Jade says how much her view of the mountains affects her, yet she never describes what it is about the vista that moves her. Readers gain little insight into Jade's relationship with other members of her household or her daily routine. Though the novel glosses over the meaning of the Dutch sailors' appearance, a closing author's note helps to put it into context. Fortunately, Jean and Mou-sien Tseng's animated black-and-white drawings fill in many details missing in the text concerning dress and setting. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)