Written by: Lyla Lee
Illustrated by: Dung Ho
For ages: 6-9 years
Language: English & some Korean
Topics Covered: Parent Loss, Korean-American Experience, New Experiences, Moving, Growing Up, Family, Social-Emotional Learning, Friendship, Single-Parent Families.
This is an adorable early chapter book that we are so excited to bring you on Korean-American Day! Min-jung Kim, who also goes by Mindy, has just moved with her father from California to Florida. The book follows Mindy trying to make friends and fit in, using her classmates’ interest in her seaweed snacks to start a business.
I really enjoyed this book! Mindy is a clever and enjoyable narrator, I found myself chuckling at her phrasing of things. This series is an important contribution to chapter books in this age group because it introduces a lot of the reasoning behind social-emotional skill development. Mindy thinks about what she says and does, and the reasoning behind doing something that she doesn’t wholly want to do (like apologizing to a friend). Mindy also takes careful note of how she’s treated by her teacher, which can open up opportunity for discussion about microaggressions and being a minoritized student. There is definitely a void in Own Voices literature about the Korean-American experience, and maintaining one’s cultural identity when faced with disdain or confusion from peers. Mindy is also coping with the loss of a parent, another family situation that isn’t common in many books that we’ve read. Overall, this book is a fantastic resource for multiple experiences and opportunity for classroom and family discussion about tricky topics.
This book was generously sent to us by our friends at Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own. This book comes out TOMORROW!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Lyla Lee is the author of the Mindy Kim series as well as the upcoming YA novel, I’ll Be The One (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins). Although she was born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids, petting cute dogs, and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice.
Dung Ho is an illustrator based in Viet Nam. They are focused on children books, game design, character design.