Review of Grandpa Across the Ocean

Grandpa Across the Ocean
by Hyewon Yum; illus. by the author
Preschool    Abrams    40 pp.    g
4/21    978-1-4197-4225-5    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-64700-312-8    $15.29

A young Korean American boy travels across the ocean to visit his grandfather in South Korea. Everything is strange there. “It smells strange. It sounds strange.” Grandpa speaks an unfamiliar language and eats food that the child doesn’t want to eat. The boy is not happy. “Grandpa’s house is the most boring place on earth!” But some time spent together proves him wrong. Grandpa laughs when watching cartoons and loves chocolate ice cream. He’s a great singer, and also a troublemaker — just like his grandson! Now, everything is familiar. The child can understand Grandpa’s language and eat Grandpa’s food. And he can’t wait to be back next summer. In this sweet and funny story, Yum (Saturday Is Swimming Day, rev. 7/18; I Am a Bird, rev. 1/21) explores the grandparent-grandchild relationship and shows how barriers of language, culture, distance, and age are overcome through the creation of shared memories and finding commonality. The straightforward text is easily accessible, and the colored-pencil illustrations are bright and vibrant. Faithful representations of street scenes and food culture in South Korea invite readers from the same background to connect personally with the visual narrative while allowing others to experience something new. The front and back endpapers also include a wealth of detail and provide a visual summary of the story.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Weileen Wang
You-Ling (Weileen) Wang loves to write, read, and illustrate. She attended Vanderbilt University, where she studied child development and fell in love with children's literature. She holds a master's degree in arts in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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