Here I am ISBN: 9781782022268
Published by Curious Fox, 2015
The author of this book emigrated from Korea to the United States as a four year old and found it very difficult. She wrote the book to help other young people who are finding adjusting to life in a new country very hard. Having said she 'wrote' the book, I would be more right to say the book has been 'painted'. There are no words, just wonderful, wonderful, expressive pictures which need no words in order to be effective. And this is a great strength of the book as children who will need it for reassurance may well not have the English language it would have been written in. There must have been words originally, of course, because the artist will have had to have words to go by in order to tell the story. Hence, we have both an author and an illustrator. A little boy comes with his family to New York from somewhere afar. He finds the big city frightening and rather boring, the language completely unknown, and the big buildings terrifying. The one thing he has that is redolent of his home country is the seed of a beautiful tree that he remembers from his home. He keeps the seed in his pocket, and when he takes it out, he can imagine the people and places he has left behind. One day he inadvertently drops the seed out of the apartment window where he lives, and is horrified when a little black girl picks it up and puts it in her pocket. In running after her to get it back, he begins to see the big city as a friendly place with lots of interesting people who are kind. Gradually his attitude changes, and as it does, he finds more and more things to enjoy. When he does find the little girl, he offers her the seed as a gift, and together they plant it. This tale is really a sort of allegory, and the sensitivity of the illustrations matches the story with great beauty. There is an oriental feel to the pictures, and at the same time, all the brashness, fun and colour of New York City too - an interesting and unusual combination. A lovely book that hits just the right notes for children who are finding life in a new place hard to bear.