A Piece of Home

Jeri Watts, illus. by Hyewon Yum. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6971-3
Hee Jun and his family have moved from Korea to West Virginia, where his father has accepted a teaching job. The whole family struggles: “In Korea, I was ordinary,” reflects the school-age boy. “I was not extraordinary, not different.” His grandmother, a “wise and wonderful teacher” in Korea, sits dull-eyed on their new front porch. After Se Ra, Hee Jun’s younger sister, “bites and kicks and even spits on her teacher,” it’s suggested that Grandmother attend school with her so they can both learn English. Yum’s (Puddle) colorful spreads carefully attend to the characters’ expressions, emotions, and relationships. Grandmother’s favorite Korean flower turns out to grow in the garden of Hee Jun’s new friend, Steve. “ ‘Rose of Sharon,’ Steve says. ‘It’s mugunghwa in Korea,’ I say. ‘It’s rose of Sharon here,’ Steve says.” When Hee Jun brings a sprig back to his grandmother, readers know it’s the beginning of an ordinary life for the family. Closely observed and greatly moving, Watts’s (Kizzy Ann Stamps) story is a useful springboard for discussions about difference and tolerance. Ages 5–8. Illustrator’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2016
Release date: 06/14/2016
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