Like many immigrants, Chee-Kee Loo the panda feels out of place when he first moves to Bearland with his family.
Drawing from her parents’ own experiences moving from South Korea to the United States, Rim recounts an abridged version of the often told immigration story. Even though the bears in Bearland are welcoming and friendly, little Chee-Kee can’t “help noticing that he was just so…different” and feels he “won’t ever fit in.” In this new place, bears use forks, but Chee-Kee uses chopsticks or eats with his hands; sunglasses are the norm, but he wears a conical sun hat; kites are diamond-shaped, but his is rectangular. Mr. and Mrs. Loo, on the other hand, make the best of the situation. When a little bear cub tells them, “You look funny!” Mrs. Loo replies, “Oh, thank you. You look funny too! How lovely.” One day, Chee-Kee is sitting in his favorite tree when some local bears get themselves into a fix. Chee-Kee springs into action. He realizes that because he’s different, he’s able to save the day. Channeling Japanese sumi-e ink painting and Chinese brush painting in combination with other mixed media, Rim reproduces the energetic, quirky style of her Birdie books. She creates a whimsical world where bears in every shape, color, and size live happily together.
A cute take on the immigrant experience that will appeal to young readers who themselves feel different. (Picture book. 3-6)