by Jeri Watts
Illustrated by Hyewon Yum
From the book jacket: Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia. He struggles to adjust to his new home, where none of his classmates look like him and he can’t understand anything the teacher says — even when she speaks s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly to him. Little by little Hee Jun begins to learn English and make friends. One day, when he is invited to a friend’s house for the first time, he sees a flower he recognizes from his grandmother’s garden in Korea: mugunghwa, or rose of Sharon, as his friend tells him it’s called in America. He brings a shoot to his grandmother, who plants the “piece of home” in their new garden.
This picture book is a perfect read aloud for any teacher who has an ELL student in his/her classroom. The words and pictures describe the struggles the students (Hee Jun and his sister Se Ra) have at school while adjusting to America.
It opens the readers’ eyes to the fact that just because someone doesn’t know English does not mean that they were not well respected in their home country. In this book, grandmother, is a well-respected teacher, regarded as a “wise and wonderful teacher” and she stands proud with her “shoulders erect.” But when she is in America she knows no English, has no job, and “she does not hold her shoulders erect and her eyes don’t gleam — not at all.” The illustrations perfectly depict these stark differences in emotions.
Use this book in a compare/contrast lesson with Eve Bunting’s One Green Apple.
–learn vocabulary through context clues and illustrations
–metacognition–How does your thinking change as the book progresses?