My Name Is Yoon

by Helen Recorvits (Author) Gabi Swiatkowska (Illustrator)

My Name Is Yoon
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Rise and Shine

Getting to feel at home in a new country

Yoon's name means Shining Wisdom, and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn't sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names - maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!

Helen Recorvits's spare and inspiring story about a little girl finding her place in a new country is given luminous pictures filled with surprising vistas and dreamscapes by Gabi Swiatkowska.

My Name Is Yoon is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review
"My name is Yoon. I came here from Korea, a country far away," begins Recorvits's (Goodbye, Walter Malinski) first-person narrative, as noteworthy for what it leaves out as for what it includes. Swiatkowska's (Hannah's Bookmobile Christmas) opening spread similarly conveys a sense of starkness, with a landscape of rolling hills and towering trees in small clusters; the serene narrator appears in a white dress. With a turn of the page, readers see Yoon dwarfed by the seemingly endless checked flooring of her new American house. She sits at a large white table where her father teaches her to write her name in English ("I did not like YOON. Lines. Circles. Each standing alone. My name looks happy in Korean. The symbols dance together"). At school, Yoon refuses to write her name. Instead, she fills her paper with other words she learns from the teacher, such as cat. "I wrote CAT on every line. I wanted to be CAT.... My mother would find me and cuddle up close to me." Yoon's words betray her sadness and insecurity at relinquishing some of her Korean identity, while Swiatkowska's painterly artwork translates the girl's fantasies. A close-up of Yoon's face shows feline ears protruding from her jet-black hair, while in the background, a real cat balances on a window sill. A turning point comes when a classmate offers Yoon a cupcake, and the heroine imagines herself as one; her round face a leafed cherry atop the pastry as she floats above the classroom. Yoon may be new to America, but her feelings as an outsider will be recognizable to all children. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2-A Korean child, feeling at odds in her American school, tries out various personas before accepting her English name. The stunning oil paintings reveal the girl's active imagination, positive attitude, and shining wisdom. Copyright 2004 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"With subtle grace, this moving story depicts a Korean girl's difficult adjustment to her new life in America...Swiatkowska's stunningly spare, almost surrealistic paintings enhance the story's message." — Starred, "School Library Journa"l
"As noteworthy for what it leaves out as for what it includes....Yoon may be new to America, but her feelings as an outsider will be recognizable to all children." — Starred, "Publishers Weekly"
Helen Recorvits

HELEN RECORVITS and GABI SWIATKOWSKA have collaborated on three books about Yoon. My Name Is Yoon was named an ALA Notable Book, among other honors, and Ms. Swiatkowska received the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award for her artwork. Ms. Recorvits lives in North Scituate, Rhode Island. Ms. Swiatkowska lives in France.

Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9780374351144
Lexile Measure
480L
Guided Reading Level
M
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Publication date
April 20, 2003
Series
Rise and Shine
BISAC categories
JUV035000 - Juvenile Fiction | School & Education
JUV039250 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emigration & Immigration
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
Library of Congress categories
Schools
Emigration and immigration
Names, Personal
First day of school
Korean Americans
Red Clover Award
Nominee 2005 - 2005
Monarch Award
Nominee 2006 - 2006
Charlotte Award
Nominee 2006 - 2006
Volunteer State Book Awards
Nominee 2005 - 2006
Georgia Children's Book Award
Nominee 2007 - 2007

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