Kirkus Reviews QR Code
BEHIND THE MASK by Yangsook Choi


by Yangsook Choi & illustrated by Yangsook Choi

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-30522-6
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Just before Halloween, while looking through his late grandfather’s things, Kimin recalls a time in Korea, when, late at night, he saw his grandfather, his face grotesque and distorted. Now he finds photographs of his grandfather as a professional dancer, as well as his robes and masks, and realizes that he only saw his grandfather in costume. Since Halloween is a time to honor the dead, Kimin decides to dress as his grandfather. He dons the robe and mask and impresses all of the neighborhood children, who don’t recognize him. Tragedy strikes when the mask falls and is damaged, but this leads to Kimin’s discovery of a note from his grandfather. Kimin’s understanding mother helps him realize that his grandfather would not be angry, and together, he and his mother hang all of the masks in the house to commemorate his grandfather. A note about talchum, Korean mask dance, follows the story. A unique look at Halloween, this is a comforting story about death and some of the traditions of Korean culture. (Picture book. 5-8)