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Review: Goyangi Means Cat August 14, 2011

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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   Many picture books for adopted children focus on reassuring          kids that they are loved and wanted. Sometimes books will                specify where the child is coming from (China, for example), but    more often, it is left out, I would guess to make the story more         applicable to different families. However, in Goyangi Means           Cat by Christine McDonnell, the little girl comes from Korea and   the story uses Korean language and her relationship with a pet to    show her growth in a new home.

McDonnell begins the story with a few Korean words, which are repeated several times throughout the text. This is a fabulous way to introduce a small amount of Korean language to an adopted child who was too young to learn it, siblings or students in a class. Kids will empathize with Soo Min as she misses her Korean friends and tries to express herself to her new family. They will recognize some of her activities, such as going to the library and the park, they will worry when her cat runs away and join in her joy when he returns.

The pictures in the book are a beautiful combination of paint and collage work. A note from the illustrator states that both Western and Eastern patterns were used in the collage paper, and it is a lovely, subtle way to depict Soo Min’s two worlds. Best of all, Korean characters are incorporated into each illustration for kids to see and explore.  This quiet, uplifting book allows kids to either step into Soo Min’s shoes and explore a new language or see their same experience reflected in her story.

Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell. Penguin, 2011. All ages.

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