|Piece of home|
Author: Watts, Jeri Hanel
When Hee Jun's family moves from Korea to West Virginia, he struggles to adjust to his new home. A child-friendly story about the trials and triumphs of starting over and making new friends.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 3.60
Points: .5 Quiz: 182216
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 2.70
Points: 1.0 Quiz: 68848
Kirkus Reviews (04/01/16)
School Library Journal (05/01/16)
Booklist (+) (04/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (07/16)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 04/01/2016 *Starred Review* “In Korea, I was ordinary,” says Hee Jun, who chronicles his family’s move to America and their gradual assimilation into their West Virginia community. Though he arrives at school knowing no English, within a few months Hee Jun has made a friend and is learning the language. After his little sister, Se Ra, acts out, biting and kicking her teacher, her grandmother stays in class to help her adjust. Soon they are both learning English. One of the endearing aspects of Watts’ book is Hee Jun’s awareness of his grandmother, an honored teacher in Korea, and her initial sense of loss and loneliness, which fade as she learns the language, befriends Se Ra’s teacher, and finds familiar flowers growing in her new country. This gentle, compassionate immigration narrative shows the difficulties of adapting to a new culture. Unlike most picture books on the subject, its setting is contemporary and its intergenerational story reflects the struggles of several family members. Scenes in Korea are written in past tense, but once the setting shifts to America, present tense adds immediacy to the simply worded, effective storytelling. Yum, a Korean artist who moved to America, contributes sensitive and expressive watercolor illustrations. A perceptive portrayal of an important American experience. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2016 K-Gr 2—When his family moves from Korea to West Virginia, Hee Jun has a difficult time adjusting. He doesn't look like the other children, he can't understand English, and when he tries to speak, the words "feel like stones…in [his] mouth." Even the sky looks "smaller and darker" than in Korea. His grandmother stays in school each day with his little sister, who is also having a hard time, but Hee Jun must cope on his own. As the months pass, though, brother, sister, and grandmother begin to learn English and Hee Jun slowly transforms from an outsider to an ordinary boy among his classmates. The story comes full circle when Hee Jun brings home a gift from a new friend—a rose of Sharon plant, the English name for the mugunghwa blossoms his grandmother grew in Korea. "'A piece of heaven,' she says. 'A piece of home.'" The young boy's distress, as well as his grandmother's, at not fitting in is evident in the large watercolor illustrations. He appears alone in his front yard, slumped over his desk, or frowning as he sits in the center of the classroom. Grandmother changes from the brightly dressed teacher she was in Korea to a bowed woman wearing drab clothing. But the mugunghwa plant, foreshadowed on the title page, brings renewed spirit to them both as they savor a piece of home. This immigration story, paired with Irena Kobald's My Two Blankets, can offer readers who feel different and alone hope that things will get better, and may encourage others to help them on their way. - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2016 Hee Jun and his family move from Korea to West Virginia, and the adjustment is difficult. His new world is uncomfortably different, particularly the language: “My new classmates smile and talk, but it is a sharp noise. Their names sit like stones on my tongue.” When his little sister, Se Ra, pitches a fit at school, Hee Jun’s grandmother begins accompanying her to smooth the transition. As the months pass, all three-Grandmother, Se Ra, and Hee Jun-slowly learn to be comfortable in their new environment and by the end of his first year, Hee Jun happily realizes that his new life in America has finally become “ordinary.” Watts presents an emotionally credible account of what life can be like for newcomers to a place and sensitively portrays Hee Jun’s experiences. There’s no single breakthrough moment for him but rather a series of small revelations that play out over a long time. Yum’s tidy watercolor illustrations feature her usual rosy-cheeked figures, and the art skillfully conveys emotion, increasing the amount of background detail and using an ever-livelier palette as Hee Jun gradually settles into American life. Use possibilities abound for this thoughtful and thought-provoking title. JH - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.