- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: First Second (March 31 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596434589
- ISBN-13: 978-1596434585
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 454 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #698,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Color of Earth Paperback – Mar 31 2009
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“The first in a trilogy, this beautifully scripted and drawn Korean manhwa provides a truly intimate but respectful journey in the company of a young girl and her widowed mother ... This is an exquisite and feminist-positive story richly literate and imaginative. Readers will eagerly await the subsequent volumes.” ―Booklist
“This book has no conflict other than that common to youthful competition over boys, but it is a work of great humanity that sucks the reader in. Kim's artwork is stunning, and seldom has a male writer captured the attitudes, emotions and behavior of female characters so believably.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Flower and water motifs course steadily through the author's erotically tinted observations of daily life, but the breathtakingly elegant line drawings of Korean landscapes elevate the use of such standard metaphors for fertility and sexuality. Furthermore, the author is able to evoke nuances of emotion from stock-character forms in a genre not known for its subtlety.” ―Kirkus
“The lush drawings combine prettily stylized elements with richly realistic detail, and they turn even indelicate moments, such as a literal pissing contest between local boys, the monk's first nocturnal emissions, and Ehwa's shock at her menarche, into tenderly rendered, universal episodes of growing up. Though the art is black and white, the textures inked in the fabrics and details of the landscapes suggest breathtaking beauty and rich color to complement the lyrical music of the text, which at times becomes poetic.” ―BCCB
“The expressive artwork captures both the beauty of the Korean countryside and the inner life of Ehwa and Namwon. It is a quiet, dreamy book that focuses on characters rather than plot. It should appeal to mature girls ready for a thoughtful coming-of-age story, as well as manga fans looking to try something new.” ―VOYA
“While the book begins when Ehwa is seven and only takes her into her early teen years, the nostalgic tone and slow pacing make the title more likely to appeal to older readers. The artwork is beautiful, particularly in Hwa's depiction of the landscape and the two main characters. A good additional purchase for libraries looking for less action-oriented manga/manhwa titles.” ―Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT, School Library Journal
“The Color of Earth gives us an intimate glimpse of adulthood seen through the experiences shared by a mother and her child. Book two comes in June, and the final book will be in stores in September.” ―Shojo Beat Magazine
About the Author
Kim Dong Hwa is the author of many graphic novels – or manwha, as they are called in Korea, where he lives. His books include the popular work My Sky and the literary piece The Red Bicycle .
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Comments: This first book in a trilogy follows the little girl from the age of about six to fourteen. It takes place in a small Korean village in a time period unknown, with the only clue to placing it somewhere in the 20th century being a steam or coal engine train. Now, I'll start off by saying this is not the type of book I would normally read *at all*. I am much too conservative to even want to read a book that has the words "s*xual awakening" on the front flap but doing my job as a Cybils panelist I reluctantly set down to give the book a chance.
I can't quite know how to say just how beautiful a story this was. A little girl's curiosity about her body, the difference between boys and girls, grown-up things she over hears and how she goes straight to her mother with her questions and confusion is a tender love story in itself. The mother/daughter relationship presented here is truly touching and really the backbone of this volume. For those wanting a plot there really isn't any. We are touched by the maternal relationship and watch as each of them separately experiences womanhood. The little girl's experiences of finding our about her body, how it's different than a boys, her first period and her first crush on a boy, who is studying to be a monk, are all respectfully portrayed. The mother, who is young and beautiful, suddenly finds that love for a man can touch her heart again when she falls in love with a traveling artist who keeps returning to visit her. There are a couple of incidents in the book that I could have done without but for the most part the material is presented in a decent way, making for a truly touching story.
I also really enjoyed the artwork. The is the first time I've read Korean manga which is called manhwa. I'm not a huge fan of manga artwork as I hate the horrible fake over expressive faces and how all the men look like girls. But this book was not drawn that way at all, aside from the occasional great big mouth to show extreme emotions all the artwork is very realistic and the detailed background scenery in many frames is lovely. The men aslo look like men. I wonder if this is typical of Korean manhwa or just this particular artist's style.
I've fallen for Ewha, the little girl, and I'll be reading the next book for sure. Though I won't commit any further as I'll have to see if the story remains within my boundaries as she gets older. This book, The Color of Earth, is not going to be for everyone but if the topic interests you and you are comfortable with the subject matter then I hope you find the story as touching as I did. I'll end with a lovely little quote the girl says to herself near the end of the book:
"Because I asked something I shouldn't have asked. I heard what I shouldn't have heard. And because I went where I shouldn't have gone, I saw what I shouldn't have seen. How will my young heart cope with all that I've heard and seen?"
In anyone`s life, the coming of age is an emotional, awkward time. In `The Color of Earth`, Kim Dong Hwa, tells the story of a mother and daughter in 20th century Korea. Young Ehwa, and her mother live in a small village peacefully until a young monk catches Ehwa`s eyes, and a painter her mother`s. The bloom of first love, and rediscovered love make this a book that is poetic and elegant. The art of Hwa is marvellous, with wide expressive panels intermingled amidst simple design. If this book were in color, it would jump off the page!
For North American readers, much of the symbolism in the book is lost. The last section of the book includes a revealing review by Hwang-Min Ho that explains the imagery, and cultural significance extremely well.
As love comes to Ehwa and her mother, we are swept away by a story that is beyond time, and beyond borders. The Color of Earth is a treasure indeed.
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This book is the first in a trilogy with others entitled, The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven. I just ordered them and I can't wait to read them! I highly recommend reading this trilogy.