* “Wonderfully telling scenes evoke the time, the place, and—more subtly—the deep-running emotions that these people, bound by customs and besieged by troubles, were so rarely free to acknowledge.”—Kirkus Reviews, pointer review “Ms. Choi writes of social, political and personal hurts in a context few young Americans today have experienced. Yet she tells of more than dislocation: she tells of Sookan’s personal growth, indeed her triumph.”—New York Times
Sookan, the unforgettable heroine of Year of Impossible Goodbyes, is now fifteen years old and a refugee in Pusan, a city in a southern province of Korea. The Korean War is raging, and she once again has been separated from her father and brothers. Anxiously awaiting any news of them, Sookan imagines a time when she can return to a normal life in Seoul. In the meantime, though she often feels sad, alone, and scared, she finds solace in a forbidden friendship and from the mysterious “shouting poet” who offers her and her fellow refugees inspiration each morning.
This is an enchanting and magical variant of the favorite fairy tale. Publishers Weekly noted that “the text is especially noteworthy for its instructive but unobtrusive incorporation of Korean words.” Children’s Literature pointed out that “it should be noted that all the illustrations—from those depicting Korean rituals to the smallest clothing details—are the result of the illustrator’s extensive research and passionate interest in Korean culture.”
Like the tree planted to honor her birth, Pear Blossom is beautiful, and the pride of her elderly mother and father. But then her mother dies, and her father remarries. Pear Blossom’s stepmother resents her new daughter’s beauty.
Out of jealousy, she makes Pear Blossom perform impossible chores while her own daughter, Peony, watches idly. But fortunately, Pear Blossom is not alone. With the help of magical creatures—togkabis—she can accomplish each task, and triumph over her stepmother’s cruelty.
Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies (NCSS/CBC)