Mommy's Hometown

by Hope Lim (Author) Jaime Kim (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

When a young boy and his mother travel overseas to her childhood home in Korea, the town is not as he imagined. Will he be able to see it the way Mommy does?

This gentle, contemplative picture book about family origins invites us to ponder the meaning of home. A young boy loves listening to his mother describe the place where she grew up, a world of tall mountains and friends splashing together in the river. Mommy's stories have let the boy visit her homeland in his thoughts and dreams, and now he's old enough to travel with her to see it for himself. But when mother and son arrive, the town is not as he imagined. Skyscrapers block the mountains, and crowds hurry past. The boy feels like an outsider--until they visit the river where his mother used to play, and he sees that the spirit and happiness of those days remain. Sensitively pitched to a child's-eye view, this vivid story honors the immigrant experience and the timeless bond between parent and child, past and present.

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School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--A young boy listens as his mother tells him about her hometown when she was growing up: "She said an old river weaved through her village like a long thread. It sparkled in the morning and shimmered at dusk." The young boy is excited to finally get to travel by train to see this wonderful place that he's only heard about. Upon arrival, he's surprised to see that the village is now a giant city with tall skyscrapers and people bustling everywhere. His mother tells him that things have changed over the years, but that some things have stayed the same. The pair finds the family house standing on the corner with they boy's grandma excitedly waiting for them. As they venture around the city, they come to the river and decide to wade in, just like the mother did as a young girl. Cherubic characters are adorably set in full-color backgrounds on the majority of the pages. Illustrations are digital and all characters are Asian. This picture book lends itself nicely to compare and contrast, then and now, as well as talking about what happens to the landscape when concrete and buildings take over. VERDICT A beautiful addition to any library shelf where the connection between generations is the discussion.--Tracy Cronce

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A child visits their mother's hometown and is surprised to find it now differs from her recollections. . . The pair make their own memories in this special place, reinforcing that it is familial bonds and unconditional love that define home rather than physical surroundings. A tranquil warmth radiates from the illustrations. . . An uplifting, intergenerational story.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This picture book is bittersweet, highlighting a touching bond between mother and son as they reminisce over the past and embrace the present. . . Jaime Kim's digital illustrations highlight the stark differences between the new and the old. . . will likely resonate with viewers sharing a similar background.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Readers are treated to sumptuous full-page spreads devoid of text, where they can linger and imagine, like the child does, a carefree life in a beautiful place. . . . This gentle, layered story will resonate with imaginative readers as it shares a message of optimism and beauty.


This picture book lends itself nicely to compare and contrast, then and now, as well as talking about what happens to the landscape when concrete and buildings take over. . . beautiful.
—School Library Journal
Hope Lim
Hope Lim is the author of I Am a Bird, illustrated by Hyewon Yum, and My Tree, illustrated by Il Sung Na. Born and raised in South Korea, Hope Lim now lives with her family in San Francisco.

Jaime Kim was born and raised in Korea before moving to the United States at the age of eighteen. She is the author-illustrator of Ready for the Spotlight! and the illustrator of many books for young readers, including La La La: A Story of Hope by Kate DiCamillo. Jaime Kim lives in North Carolina.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
April 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV013060 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Parents
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Mothers and sons
Korean Americans
Korea (South)

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