Goyangi Means Cat – Perfect Picture Book

Goyangi Means Cat

Christine McDonnell, Author

Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, illustrators

Viking, 2011, Fiction

Suitable for:  Ages 3 and up

Themes:  Adoption, Families, Cats, Friendship, Language

Opening/Synopsis“When Soo Min came from Korea to her new home in America, she spoke no English.  Her new family knew just a few Korean words.  Mok-da – eat.  Chim-dae – bed.  Bahp – rice.  Jip – house.  In the first few days, Soo Min quickly taught them more words: Anyah – no! when she didn’t want to go to bed. Ah-po – hurt, when she scraped her knee.  Gom – teddy bear, which she carried in the hood of her jacket. Po-po – kiss, a gift she gave her parents.   Best of all was Goyangi — the cat.”   This is a very sweet story about Soo Min and the adjustments she has to make coming to live with her new parents.   Soo Min loved Goyangi right away and followed the cat everywhere.  Goyangi curls up on her bed at night and helps to lessen her anxiety.   Soo Min is not afraid when Goyangi is with her. It is through her relationship with Goyangi, that Soo Min finds her place with her new parents and in her new  home.

Why I like this book:  I am partial to books for kids who have been adopted from other countries.  We adopted our son from India in 1985.   It is such a learning curve for all involved.   Like Soo Min, our son attached himself to our dogs.  And, I remember how we learned more from him, as he pointed out things in his native tongue, Tamil.  Christine McDonnell has done a lovely job of incorporating Korean words into the entire book, so that children will learn a little Korean.   The lovely illustrations, by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher, are warm collages that highlight the colorful textiles that decorate the walls and furniture throughout the pages, lending an Eastern-western look.

Activities:  I found the most useful activities for parents adopting older children at the Administrations for Children and Families website for foster and adoptive families.  Creating a Life Book, is one good example.  There are also support organizations for families who have done international adoptions.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

44 thoughts on “Goyangi Means Cat – Perfect Picture Book

  1. I love the sound of this book, Pat, and I know so many people who have adopted children from other countries who might find it useful. I love the idea of animals easing the transition. It’s like therapy animals – so many people are soothed and comforted and reassured by the presence of animals. I really like that the book teaches some Korean words, too. I’ve certainly read books that do that with Spanish, but not really any other language. Thanks for another great pick – I’m definitely going to have to read this one!

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    • Susanna, I found this a very simple and straightforward story about a child adopted from another country, especially after adopting a son many years ago from India. I am glad the author used the cat as someone the child could bond with and trust. We had the same experience, especially with an older child. I was thrilled it was about a Korean child and inlude Korean words. Glad you liked the book. And, we needed more adoption books.

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  2. I like this book for a bunch of reasons. First it’s about adoption (and I am all for that 🙂 ) Second it teaches words from another language (I am very interested in learning other languages) and Third I think it shows how animals/pets can help people in difficult situations. Thanks for telling us about it!

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    • Erik, your three reasons are great. I thought about you and my own children as I reviewed this book. I think pets are great ways to teach older adopted children bond and feel secure. Glad you liked my selection. And, I loved the Korean words too.

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  3. I agree with Heather – the cover is so soft and beautiful!

    Bonus points for teaching Korean/English equivalents. Television has made Spanish (Dora) and Chinese (Kai Lan) very accessible to contemporary children, so why not introduce a broader range of languages?

    Wonderful book choice, as always!

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    • Cathy, the cover is soft and beautiful and I’m glad you and Heather both mentioned it! I was excited about the book taught a few Korean/English equivalents words. I remember my son doing the same thing. Happy you enjoyed my selection.

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    • Michael, it didn’t say, but my guesss is South Korea. I can’t imagine North Korea permitting adoptions. This book was lovely. You missed my “war” reviews last week on “Abe in Arms” on child soldiers, and “Playing War.” Was curious what you’d think.

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  4. Wow, this is a book with many layers, lovely. I too like the idea of animals being so universal and giving unconditional love without the need of words, and thus aiding in the difficult transition of a child adopted into a different culture.

    Did you find many/any appropriate books when you adopted your son, Pat?

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    • Joanna, it was such a good teaching book for young children. And an excellent book for an adopted child from a foreign country and family members. No, I didn’t find many books. And, he was a little older. There was a short window of about 10-12 year for adopting children from India. Fortunately the organization we worked with had books and calendars of familar sites he knew and that helped. And, five of his best friends were adopted at the same time, so we kept him in contact with the families. He’s made two trips back to India and always visits the orphanage.

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  5. Thank you Pat, for another stellar addition to the list. I am not much of an animal person, so I never thought about how one could bring comfort and security in a situation like the one in this book. I have friends who are in the midst of international adoption right now, and i know they will appreciate this book recommendation.

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    • Amy, “stellar addition?” I’m flattered. I’m glad you liked the book and will recommend it to your friends. Animals are especially important when adoptingan older child because sometimes they have difficulty with attachment in the beginning. Thank heaven we had two miniature poodles, because our son bonded with them immediately and they became his dogs.

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  6. Wow, language, adoptions outside the country, animals. Excellent! Animals ease the transitions in life for children in so many ways. Through, war, death, etc. This book is a must have! I agree with Amy! Thank you Pat for adding it to the list. Beautiful! 🙂

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  7. I second that Pat…… we need to write them. Loved this book, its right up my alley! Just where are you finding these?… Love everything about this book including the beautiful illustration on the cover. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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    • Diane, I found this at the library. Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. But many times I search and search, and then check out the library. Many of the books I review I have to purchase because the libraries don’t carry.

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  8. Thanks for this book recommendation. I’m always on the lookout for books that help children work through the international adoption experience. We have many friends who have adopted in our community and are plans are to adopt from Haiti in the next few years. I just wrote a picture book about international adoption experience as well! Hunting down a publisher now.

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    • Dorina, welcome to my blog. I’m glad you like this book. I looked briefly at your blog. I love Haiti. My daughter has gone on to medical mission trips there before the earthquake. We’ve been involved with a local program in Ohio, and sponsor three children. Good luck with getting your book publsihed. Let me know, and I’ll review it. Again, thanks for stopping. — Pat

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  9. Thank you so much, Pat! This looks like a wonderful story for any child…but especially helpful where there are adopted kids. I love the illustrations…so soft and warm. :
    Pets can definitely be ice-breakers in any setting…they are loving and loyal and non-threatening, especially where there is a language barrier…because animals speak the language of love. 🙂

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  10. Hi Patricia, one of the reading challenges we joined this year is the Immigrant Stories Reading Challenge, and our next bimonthly theme for May/June would be a Festival of Asian Literature and the Immigrant Experience. This book looks like the perfect picture book to feature/include as well! Many thanks for such a lovely review.

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    • Myra, thought of you when I reviewed this one. I thought it may fit one of your themes. I have another book I’ve reviewed that I will run soon which will fit too. Am part of Reading the World challenge, and am thinking about submitting them. Sorry, haven’t gotten to your posts.

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  11. Your review is a another reason I love Perfect Picture Book Fridays as a writer. I heard about another adoption story with a cat (Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku) this week. I think I’m late to the party about knowing about Won Ton. Goyangi Means Cat reminds me how we can tell a similar story in so many different ways. And, I would think it would be a tremendous resources for so many parents adopting today. Thanks Pat for sharing the story about your son.

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    • Stacy, thank you for the compliment. I feel the same way when I read the other reviews. Will have to look up the WonTon cat book. This really is a good book. I carry with me a lot of wisdom as I have been through it. My son is an adult now and driving a truck all over the US. Loves what he does. He was an older child.

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  12. This sounds like such an excellent book, Pat. I’m glad to see you mentioned the Reading the World Challenge in a comment — I was going to ask if you’d linked this review to the Challenge.

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  13. What an amazing book you have shared, Pat. I think this book fills a very important but often overlooked niche in children’s picture books. So many children will benefit from this story as they connect with the character Soo Min. Bravo!

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  14. I am just now getting to read last week’s PPBF list along with this week’s list. I will have a doubly long list for the library this week.

    This is a perfect book to add to the list on such a great subject. Thanks for the comprehensive review…you always do an amazing job.

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