Soe-In has a small round face, just larger than a persimmon, pink cheeks, and a long black braid. Her name, in Korean, means “tiny person.”
One morning, the villagers find the sun missing from the sky. The air is filled with black smoke and red embers. When the chieftain asks for a volunteer to solve this mystery, everyone is silent—except for Soe-In. “I will go.” The smallest people often have the bravest hearts. The courageous little girl packs up her pink bojagi (a scarf to carry her belongings) and travels into the dark forest. She comes face to face with the spirit tiger, who has accidentally swallowed the sun. (The symbolism of the tiger in Korean culture is explained in an author’s note.) Cha’s debut picture book captures the bold ethos of an ancient Korean legend with sparkling energy, dramatic fires, and giant tigers. It does not, however, overwhelm the modern sensibilities of this small and resolute girl, thoughtfully trying many solutions to solve this epic problem. While traditional clothing and architecture are lovingly portrayed, the presence of a tiny girl heroine is a contemporary twist. Although the range of emotions seen on the face of the main character is limited, the plot and pictures carry the story forward with theatrical drama.
A bold and mythic female underdog tale with the look and feel of an ancient Korean fable. (Picture book. 4-8)