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My Name Is Yoon Hardcover – Apr 3 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (April 3 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374351147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374351144
  • Product Dimensions: 25.8 x 1.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #256,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2-With subtle grace, this moving story depicts a Korean girl's difficult adjustment to her new life in America. Yoon, or "Shining Wisdom," decides that her name looks much happier written in Korean than in English ("I did not like YOON. Lines. Circles. Each standing alone"). Still, she struggles to please her parents by learning an unfamiliar language while surrounded by strangers. Although her teacher encourages her to practice writing "Yoon," the child substitutes other words for her name, words that better express her inner fears and hopes. Calling herself "CAT," she dreams of hiding in a corner and cuddling with her mother. As "BIRD," she imagines herself flying back to Korea. Finally, she pretends she is "CUPCAKE," an identity that would allow her to gain the acceptance of her classmates. In the end, she comes to accept both her English name and her new American self, recognizing that however it is written, she is still Yoon. Swiatkowska's stunningly spare, almost surrealistic paintings enhance the story's message. The minimally furnished rooms of Yoon's home are contrasted with views of richly hued landscapes seen through open windows, creating a dreamlike quality that complements the girl's playful imaginings of cats on the chalkboard, trees growing on walls, and a gleeful flying cupcake. At first glance, Yoon seems rather static, but her cherubic face reveals the range of her feelings, from sadness and confusion to playfulness, and finally pride. A powerful and inspiring picture book.
Teri Markson, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School, Los Angeles
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

K-Gr. 2. "I wanted to go back home to Korea. I did not like America. Everything was different here." Yoon doesn't want to learn the new ways. Her simple, first-person narrative stays true to the small immigrant child's bewildered viewpoint, and Swiatkowska's beautiful paintings, precise and slightly surreal, capture her sense of dislocation. Reminiscent of the work of Allen Say, the images set close-ups of the child at home and at school against traditional American landscapes distanced through window frames. In a classroom scene many children will relate to, everything is stark, detailed, and disconnected--the blackboard, the teacher's gestures, one kid's jeering face--a perfect depiction of the child's alienation. By the end, when Yoon is beginning to feel at home, the teacher and children are humanized, the surreal becomes playful and funny instead of scary, and Yoon is happy with friends in the wide, open school yard. Now she is part of the landscape. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful story that can be shared with any age group. It's about a young Asian girl who comes to America and refuses to write her English name. Beautiful story that teaches a lesson at the end. The pictures are spectacular and very intricate. I love this book!
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Format: Hardcover
Mischievous, Korean-born Yoon deals with starting school and learning English. She likes her name in Korean. It means shining wisdom. She is not so sure she likes YOON, her name written in English. The illustrations are stark, rich, and playful.
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By K on April 19 2009
Format: Hardcover
Fantastic story to share with my class, many of the children could relate to Yoon's situation. Illustrations are beautiful.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9dc8c5a0) out of 5 stars 21 reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dd17840) out of 5 stars What's in a name? Letters, I s'pose. Aug. 1 2005
By E. R. Bird - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In 2001 a book came out entitled, "The Name Jar" about a girl from Korea who had moved to America and wanted an Americanized name. Then, in 2003, "My Name Is Yoon" came out with practically the same plot. Normally, I have little sympathy for children's books that mimic their predecessors. In this case, however, there can be little doubt as to which book is the better of the two. "My Name Is Yoon", is a complex tale of imagination, flights of fancy, and gradual acceptance. By contrast, "The Name Jar" was simply okay. You can find ho-hum picture books lining the shelves of most libraries and bookstores around the globe. It is far rarer to find books quite as remarkable as the stunning, "Yoon".

Yoon isn't exactly thrilled to be in America. Wherever she looks, she sees that life is different in this strange new land. In Korea, where Yoon was born, her name meant Shining Wisdom. Despite her father's assurances that it means the same thing here, Yoon isn't so sure. And then there's the fact that when she writes her name using English characters, it's just a series of sticks and circles, whereas in Korean, "The symbols dance together". She's right. They do. Yoon carries her unhappiness to school where each day she learns a new word and makes that her name. One day it's cat. Another it's bird. Still another (and most amusingly) it's cupcake. In the end, Yoon learns to like her new country, supposing perhaps that maybe that being different can be good too. And in the end, she embraces her real name. "It still means Shining Wisdom".

I hate summarizing picture books where the plot, when written down, sounds so much hokier than it feels on the page. What I've just written sounds nice but bland. The book is anything but bland. Yoon's a distinct and remarkable character. With each new name she adopts, she becomes that object in her dreams. For example, when she becomes BIRD she wishes she could fly back to Korea once again. The book also skips what I've come to feel is the obligatory foreign-child-gets-teased sequence. The kind of thing you tend to find in books like, "Molly's Pilgrim". I was grateful for the oversight. "My Name Is Yoon" is tackling more important problems here. The acceptance of one's own self in a foreign environment, for example. Becoming your own name. Becoming your own self. What could be greater than this?

The pictures, for their part, don't hurt. Artist Gabi Swiatkowska is perhaps best known for this book and the title, "Silk Umbrellas" by Carolyn Marsden. "My Name Is Yoon" is good as a story, yes. But the Yoon we see here is a complex original human being. A one-of-a-kind gal. When her imagination soars it takes off like nothing else, aided by Swiatkowska's realistic images. I especially liked looking at the pictures of her in her home. Here, the black and white tiles of the floor bend and twist in strangely surreal patterns. I'll be honest with you, though. The book could've been awful and I still would have loved it just so long as it continued to contain the picture of Yoon floating through her classroom window as a delicious fluffy cupcake.

Realism is what grounds "My Name Is Yoon". Surrealism sets it apart from the rabble. If you're stocking your personal library with only the most essential picture books out there, you'd be doing yourself a disservice not to include this truly delightful title.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dafb504) out of 5 stars Young Immigrants Featured Review Dec 5 2004
By Mitali Perkins - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Immigrant kids recognize that hesitation during roll call when a new teacher gets to their name. I used to dread it, but the experience depended on how a grownup handled these encounters with the unfamiliar. If only all teachers (and immigrant parents) were as wise as the ones in this book! Recorvits' poetic, spare text and Swiatkowska's imaginative paintings explore one aspect of feeling "foreign" -- an immigrant child's name. In a new language and a new alphabet, Yoon's beautiful Korean name seems foreign even to herself. Are you still "Yoon" when people outside the family pronounce your name differently? When they don't know that it means "shining wisdom?" For a child to feel at home in a new country, she needs a loving circle of teachers, parents, and classmates, as well as a good measure of her own courage. Reading My Name is Yoon might compensate somewhat if any of those crucial ingredients are missing.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db103a8) out of 5 stars Great illiustrations, great message April 30 2005
By Melissa J - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful story about a young Korean girl who has moved to America with her family. At school when she write her name Yoon in English for the first time, she decides that she likes her Korean characters more than the English version because, "My name looks happy in Korean. The symbols dance together."

She decides that she would like to go back to Korea because everything is different in America. Every day at school, her nice teacher asks her to write her name on a paper, and Yoon instead writes a different word that she has recently learned. The beautiful illustrations go along with these words, showing Yoon as a bird, cat, and cupcake. In the end Yoon realizes that perhaps America will be a good home, and that, "maybe different is good."

A great story for children to read, to aid in understanding and acceptance.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dd22468) out of 5 stars Inauthentic and misinformative July 22 2015
By Verseau - Published on
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be an inaccurate and unattractive portrayal of korean culture. It needs a more aware writer, a good editor and more skillful illustrator, this one depicts the Asian family with unattractive, racially exaggerated, stereotypical features: with bowl haircut, overly wide-set eyes, marshmallow puffy, slit-like pillowed eyes, it's like a "Charlie Chan" depiction of Asians. The korean alphabet is also incorrectly depicted (as if written by an illiterate), with disconnected letters. The title of the book itself is inauthentic because "Yoon" by itself is an incomplete name. Korean names are always in two indivisible but separated sets/parts, for example "Yoon Ah" or "Yoon Ae". Sometimes the name is hyphenated as "Yoon-Ah" or "Yoon-Ae", similar to names like Mary Anne or Mary Ellen or Jean-Jacques or Jean-Pierre; the name exists in two equal parts, but to say just "Yoon" by itself is an obviously non-korean interpretation of the name. To have the parents call their daughter "Yoon" is very strange. I wonder why didn't the author bother to reference true korean culture? Any Korean person could have explained this cultural information correctly (if the writer had bothered to ask an actual Korean)! What gave the writer the authority to depict a culture (that they obviously didn't understand) so inaccurately? Education begins in children's books and media, this is the source of information that becomes integrated into our future society. It's 2015, I think it's time to evolve past these outdated, racial/cultural stereotypes.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db98090) out of 5 stars Mischievous and fun April 12 2004
By K. Roman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Mischievous, Korean-born Yoon deals with starting school and learning English. She likes her name in Korean. It means shining wisdom. She is not so sure she likes YOON, her name written in English. The illustrations are stark, rich, and playful. Karen Woodworth Roman, East Asian Children's Books