Monday, July 5, 2004

My Name is Yoon

Recorvits, Helen. 2003. MY NAME IS YOON. Ill. by Gabi Swiatkowska. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0374351147 [Suggested Grade Levels K – 2]


Yoon is a young Korean girl who has immigrated with her family to the United States. She yearns to return to her homeland where her name, meaning “Shining Wisdom,” dances together as symbols instead of the ugly circles and lines that appear in English. Yoon learns how to spell “cat” and substitutes “CAT” for her own name. Yoon’s teacher encourages her to use her own name but Yoon, who is certain her teacher and classmates dislike her, writes “CAT” on every line trying to conceal her inner feelings. It is an encounter with a classmate on the playground that Yoon imagines she is “CUPCAKE” and wins the affection of her classmates. In the end, Yoon accepts her new home and English name knowing she is still “Shining Wisdom.”

Swiatkowsha creates vibrant pictures laden with surprising vistas and dreamscapes. Her paintings border on surrealistic. They support the feeling and emotions of Yoon. The reader is drawn in to feel for Yoon as her face reveals the range of feelings from sadness, confusion, irritation, playfulness, and finally pride. Children will identify with Yoon and her feelings of insecurity and lack of acceptance. This is a sensitive look at how a young girl learns to adopt her new country, accepts the changes in her life, and thrives in her new circumstances. This is a great book to share with young ones beginning a new school year.

Yoon’s name means “Shining Wisdom.” Have students predict what the meanings of their names are. Students can base their predictions on appearance, personality traits, etc. Then students will look up the real meanings using Students can interview their parents and find out where their names came from.

Children can create an individual name shield. In the center of the shield, students write their names and the meanings. In the sections around the center, students will write and draw a picture of their favorite food, hobby, television show, etc. Students can share their shields with their classmates.

Other books about dealing with change and finding acceptance:
Choi, Yangsook. THE NAME JAR. ISBN 0395616263
Hartung, Susan Kathleen. DEAR JUNO. ISBN 0670882526
Park, Frances. Good-Bye, 382 SHIN DANG DONG. ISBN: 0395616263

By Jill Howell

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