The delightful Korean tradition of doljabi, which tells the fortune of a child on their first birthday, is brought to life by two delicate woodland creatures.
In an enchanting debut, Yu illustrates the special tradition of a Korean baby’s first birthday. For mouse baby Twig’s doljabi celebration, items representing possible futures are carefully placed on a mat. What will she choose for her fortune? A book forecasts a scholar, a hammer predicts a builder, seeds represent plenty, a ball of yarn anticipates long life. Via the pen-and-watercolor illustrations, warmth and eagerness infuse the pages of this mouse-sized world. Older sister Hazel shows genuine affection and curiosity for Twig’s future. Domestic bliss pours from the pages as the extended family prepares for the festivities, making dandelion kimchi, capturing fireflies for lanterns, and laying out the beautiful hanbok to be worn at the party. The anticipation leads to a twist in the fortune that only time will tell. Although this story is girl-focused, other children will also enjoy the first-birthday fortunetelling. The animal characters allow ample room for self-identity, including adoptive and mixed-race families. The story itself does not include the word “Korean” at all, assuming readers will understand the context. A short Korean glossary is included in the endnotes.
With very few picture books covering this beloved tradition, this book fills a need—and it will have readers of many cultures craving their own doljabi ceremonies. (Picture book. 3-8)