cover image Goyangi Means Cat

Goyangi Means Cat

Christine McDonnell, illus. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Viking, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-670-01179-7

The experience of being adopted by parents who speak another language is vividly portrayed in McDonnell's (Dog Wants to Play) account of the first weeks of a Korean child's life in a new country. Johnson and Fancher (A Boy Named FDR) dwell on the safe, comfortable home that Soo Min's American parents offer her; their collages highlight the colorful textiles that decorate the walls and furniture. Yet this warmth is no consolation for Soo Min, whose new parents know only "a few Korean words." Simple words (family, home, cat, etc.) appear in Korean within the artwork, making patterns that contrast with those in the house, just as Soo Min's language contrasts with theirs. "Goyangi," the word for cat, becomes the Siamese cat's new name; Soo Min lavishes attention on it, and when it disappears, she's inconsolable. "She cried for Goyangi. She cried for Korea. So many tears." But when Goyangi returns, Soo Min speaks her first English sentence%E2%80%94"Goyangi home." By facing head-on the difficulties that can sometimes accompany adoption, the book provides a sensitive depiction of an experience that readers%E2%80%94or their friends%E2%80%94may have gone through themselves. Ages 3%E2%80%938. (May)