Books by Frances Park

Released: May 10, 2011

"Smooth, soft-centered confection that goes down with a smile."
Two Washington, D.C., siblings, disillusioned with life and love, join forces to realize a sweetly successful venture. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

An immigrant family adapts to life in America in this engaging look at their experience. The story stars a young boy named Mike and his grandmother, who has recently come from Korea to live with her son's family. She is always thinking about life back home, Mike observes, as they pass the time at his parent's food cart in the city. Potter's delicate illustrations, which appear to be in pastel, reflect the hazy light of summer, and the family's dismay as they contemplate closure: Competitors have crowded their corner. However, before long, Mike and his grandmother hatch a plan that not only reinvents the business, but also helps her to connect with the past while forging a new identity in America. A sensitive and inspiring portrait of a family's triumph in the face of adversity. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
GOOD-BYE, 382 SHIN DANG DONG by Frances Park
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

Though the subject of moving day is a popular theme, the Parks (Where on Earth is My Bagel, 2001, etc.) provide a unique perspective on the experience. Jangmi relates her memories of her move from her Korean home to America when she was eight years old. She wakes to the beginning of the monsoon rains on her roof in her room stripped of all her belongings that her parents have packed in a big brown box marked "Lovely Things." Her best friend, Kisuni, arrives and at the market they pick out their favorite food for the farewell luncheon that day. They sit under the willow tree and share the chummy, a type of melon, sad to soon be separated. At the luncheon, family and friends "celebrate in a sad way" with traditional foods and Korean songs: "Love, laughter and tears ripple through the house." Four days later, Jangmi and her parents arrive to begin a new life in Brighton, Massachusetts. As Jangmi arranges her "lovely things" in her own room, all of the neighbors arrive with "plates of curious food" and "something called casseroles." Jangmi meets a girl called Mary who asks what kind of food Jangmi eats in Korea. When Dad translates the question and Jangmi answers "Chummy," Mary giggles—just like Kisuni. The parallels of life in Korea and America are smartly conceived, and young readers will immediately identify with Jangmi and her friends. Korean terms, easily recognized in the context, add richness. Choi's (Earthquake, 2001, etc.) oils on the opposite page of the text are simple and focus on the young girl, though the two countries are distinct in the illustrations. A gentle and loving story perfectly pitched to its audience. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 2001

The fates look kindly upon the mixture of longing, serendipity, and quick thinking that accompanies the Parks' story of Yum Yung's bagel desire. It came to Yum Yung out of the blue one day: His village in Korea might have many things—"There were waterfalls rushing into streams of darting fish. There were lilacs gently blossoming on every hillside"—but there were no New York bagels. To remedy this problem, Yum Yung ties a note to a pigeon's leg and bids the bird haste to New York City with his request for a bagel. But the bird is ever-so-long in returning, and Yum Yung worries the bird has delivered it somewhere else. So he asks his neighbors—a farmer, a fisherman, a beekeeper—if they have seen it. No, they respond after learning what a bagel is. "It is round and it has a hole in the middle." They are experts in their craft, but it is not a plow wheel, a life ring, or a circle of bees. When Yum Yung is paying a visit to the baker, the pigeon returns, not with a bagel, but with a note from Joe's To-Go Bagels giving his secret recipe. The baker says she hasn't the ingredients, but Yum Yung knows just where to get flour, sea salt, and honey. And voilà, Yum Yung has his bagel. Lin's transporting artwork has a toned-down Eastern flavor that makes for a successful expression of the story's trans-cultural happening, but it is the pursuit of passion—and the warm rewards that may follow on its wake—that makes this story special. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

The phenomenal but often unnoticed heroism of many recent immigrants' journeys to freedom is recorded in this remarkable tale of a young Korean girl's escape. After Korea has been divided in half, many of the families in the north escape to South Korea. In Soo's school, many of her classmates have already disappeared. Finally one night, Soo's father goes too, with a promise to come back for his daughter and wife. When many nights of waiting and wondering have passed, it's finally time for Soo to go; after a long train ride and a hike through the forest, only a river lies between Soo and her father. But that's also where a North Korean guard finds Soo and her guide. Though Soo makes it to freedom, war breaks out before her mother is able to leave and the family is never reunited. The illustrations are impressionistic and warm, reflecting Soo's dangerous trip and the once-bright security of her family. Despite the devastating ending, this touching tale of quiet bravery has universal appeal. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
HOTLINE HEAVEN by Frances Park
Released: July 1, 1998

Lumpish fiction debut by the owner of a D.C. chocolate shop detailing the lives of a middle-aged couple who meet via a suicide prevention hotline and continue to struggle against a nagging desire to end it all. Jo's woes began when her father committed suicide when Jo was only six and her mother wrapped herself in an impenetrable blanket of denial. Having cared for her mother until her death from cancer, then having moved into the basement of her married sister's home, Jo began the long march to age 40 as a self-loathing "old troll." That is, until she called the Hotline Heaven suicide prevention number and found Monk on the other phone. A divorced former stock-car racer still grieving over the death of his young son, Monk turns out to have a knack for relieving Jo's pain. The two arrange a meeting, fall in love at first sight, marry, and eventually settle down in tiny Canterbury, Pennsylvania. "Happily ever after" proves not to be a phrase in their emotional vocabularies, however: Even as Monk is promoted twice by his employer, a home improvement chain called Home-Mart, and even as Jo finds a satisfying creative outlet as baker at The Cake & Coffee, depression stalks them both. When Monk is fired from his job, he runs his car into a ditch; his near-death experience convinces him there's no life after death and therefore no reason for hope in this one. When The Cake & Coffee is singled out for a feature article in Hearthstone, the pressure on Jo to create a cake good enough to grace the magazine's cover takes the pleasure out of baking for her. Husband and wife suffer through this rough patch, empathetic yet too wounded to help each other. It takes a new job offer and a perfect cake to life their spirits, allowing these two aging lovers to stagger through another year. Park strives for lyricism in depicting the lives of this more-or-less average small-town couple, but too often her prose dissolves into sentimental murk. Read full book review >