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.