In a story based on the author’s own experiences, a young girl in South Korea takes on a covert mission of compassion.
Young Yoori and her appa (father) travel to the countryside for a church’s special project: to “send special balloons carrying rice over the border to North Korea.” Yoori tells readers how Appa escaped from North Korea and knows that “Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have enough food to eat.” Local villagers protest their actions, chanting “Don’t feed the enemy.” However Yoori’s passion and perseverance change a local boy’s initial resistance to cooperation. There is an abundant, even conspicuous use of rice metaphors and a few moments where the flow of the text seems abrupt. Yet these are very small flaws compared to the big picture: a fascinating story based on true events in an elementary-level book that directly addresses the current situation between North and South Korea. Korea-based artist Song uses digital illustrations with vivid colors and very detailed textures for the setting, with effects that sometimes approach three-dimensional, while keeping a hand-drawn style for the human characters. The release of the elongated balloons is a wondrous sight.
This compelling debut will capture the interest of children and adults alike. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-9)