Rice from Heaven, The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans
by Tina Cho, illustrated by Keum Jin Song
Little Bee Books, 2018
A story based on a true event.
A group in South Korea organize to send balloons carrying rice across the border to South Korea in the hopes that the families will receive the rice. The people in North Korea are starving and their government does nothing. Some who help send the rice, are from South Korea and know starvation. When some children cry, “They are the enemy,” the story’s hero declares the children are eating grass and bark for they have no food. Understanding, the opposing children join in the effort. Launched under the cover of darkness, the rice must fly 118 miles and not be noticed by North Korean soldiers. Six pages of backmatter introduces Korea and what is taking place there today. This book is ideal for discussion to supplement what children are hearing in today’s news.
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Yoon and the Christmas Mitten
by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Frances Foster Books, 2007
While this book is older and only available used or at a library, it’s worth seeking out. It’s a poignant story about a young Korean girl, new to America, who doesn’t understand why she can’t celebrate Santa Claus.
In kindergarten, Yoon learns about Santa Claus. She attempts to tell her parents about this wonderful man, but they say they live in a Korean house, not a Christmas house. She learns about reindeer, makes popcorn balls and learns about Christmas stockings, but her parents stay solid on claiming they live in a Korean house, not a Christmas house. Frustrated, Yoon points out, “But father, you have also told me that America is our home now. Are we not both Korean and American?” He contemplates her words and compliments her, “You are full of shining wisdom, little Yoon.” On Christmas Day, she awakens to a piece of the North Pole in her mitten and a gift by her bed.
Beyond the main theme of immigrants having to make changes when they move to a new land, many additional components make this a wonderful story: the young child is ‘heard’ by her parents, the loose illustrations speak to the heart, and the charm of a red mitten in place of a stocking. An endearing tale.
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