SEESAW GIRL by Linda Sue Park


Age Range: 8 - 12
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In 17th-century Korea, the life of a noblewoman is extremely circumscribed: she leaves the inner court of her family home only to marry, or to attend a funeral. Jade, 12, is deeply attached to her older cousin Willow, and keenly feels the loss when Willow is married. She pesters her older brother Tiger Heart, however, to tell her tales of the market, the king’s court, and the strange prisoners with red and gold hair; she longs to see the mountains she can barely glimpse above the family compound wall. The seesaw of the title, a Korean game, forms the climax of this quiet book and the key to Jade’s seeing beyond her tightly enclosed world. The writing gracefully describes the extended structure of the family, the differences in how boys and girls of noble birth were educated, and the elaborate wedding ceremony. Park’s afterword tells of a Dutch ship that ran aground in Korea near the time of the story, and what happened to the prisoners Jade’s father defended. The evocative descriptions and Jade’s intensity in creating new ways to learn will capture and hold readers. (b&w illustrations, bibliography) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-91514-7
Page count: 90pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1999