Joan Schoettler, Author
Jessica Lana, Illustrator
Shen’s Books, Historical Fiction, 2011
Suitable for: Ages 5 and up
Awards: National Council for the Social Studies in association with the Children’s Books Council as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book of 2012; and ForeWord Magazine 2011 Book of the Year Finalist.
Themes: Korean wrapping cloths, Sewing, Mother and daughter relationship, 18th Century
Opening/Synopsis: “Eomma, listen. Horses.” Ji-su pressed closer to her mother. Stay. Don’t go to King Yongjo’s court.” Eomma told her again, “It is an honor for me, and our family, to sew bojagi for the royal household. The Sanguiwon master searches for the finest seamstresses. He saw one of my bojagi at the market and chose me. I must go to Hanyang.” Ji’su begs to go with her Eomma (mother) to the King’s palace, but she is too young. As her mother leaves, she hands Ji-su a gift. She unfolds bojagi (wrapping cover) and finds Eomma’s box containing a needle, thread, a thimble, a ruler, a pair of scissors, a small iron called an indoo, and an irons with a bowl to hold charcoals called a darimi. Ji-su knows what she’s to do and asks her old aunt to teach her how to sew bojagi. This is the only way she’ll see her mother again. She begins to work on her stitches. Seasons pass as Ji-su perfects her bojagi. One day the Sanguiwon master visits her village. She eagerly shows him her work. He sees her potential and tells her that if she can make more bojagi before the Dano Festival, he will look at her work again when he passes through. Nothing matters to Ji-su but perfecting her stitching. Will her stitching be good enough for the royal family and reunite her with her mother?
Why I like this book: Joan Schoettler has written a beautiful love story about a mother and daughter. Ji-su is very determined and courageous girl, who works through many seasons to perfect her artistry with the hopes of being reunited with her mother. The story is filled with Korean words and there is glossary at the end. Jessica Lanan has captured the beautiful culture and landscape of ancient Korea in her soft illustrations. They are simply stunning. Schoettler viewed a collection of bojagi wrapping cloths at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. She met a Korean-born fiber artist known internationally for her bojagi, and was inspired to write this book. The Korean wrapping cloths called bojagi that were sewn from Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897.) The wrapping cloths were used for everything and believed to be good luck for the person receiving a bojagi.
Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia ranging from China, Japan, Korea, the Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.