A PLACE TO GROW by Soyung Pak


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 10
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A simple story can sometimes grow into many compound emotions, like the delicate complexity of a flower. And in the hands of both an author and an illustrator with an Eastern orientation, subtle exchanges bloom into explanations of family, current events, and the natural world, enriching perceptive young readers who would spend the time to pore over the integral pictures and text. Ezra Jack Keats Award–winner Pak (Dear Juno, 1999) recounts the growth of a conversation between a father and daughter who have emigrated to the West to find their own quiet patch of earth, escaping the turmoil of their native country. The father’s belief in the good reasons to uproot—or more aptly, transplant—his family are as reassuring as the seasons and the weather. Sometimes, he says, a seed must travel far to find good soil, good sun, and good rain. And there is another garden in the heart. Newcomer Truong uses bold, solid renderings in China Ink and gouache to reinforce the solidity of the family’s survival intact. He uses a bright, varied, and happy palette in the gardens of the new country, along with startling angles and perspectives. The old country he renders darkly and more monochromatically while more in profile. There is no terror, repression, or violence depicted, because we know it is there. The simple, excellent design melds both image and text to bring a rich harvest on many different levels, like a Koan or haiku. World migration is becoming more of an issue; family survival always has been; and children’s worldliness today requires sophisticated metaphors to assuage anxieties. Perhaps in a small way here is a large contribution. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-439-13015-8
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2002


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