Sunday, June 23, 2013

See Saw girl by Linda Sue Park

We have begun collecting books for our school library to link with the Asian Focus of the new English Curriculum.  We have collected a large number of picture books and now we are adding short novels.

Set in Korea See Saw girl is a perfect Middle Primary novel  Jade Blossom lives a protected a closed life inside the walls of her home.  Boys are allowed outside but not girls.  Jade longs to see the mountains and to visit her cousin Willow who has recently been married so she contrives a way to sneak out of the Han house using the market cart.

Jade is successful but she has not considered how her clothes and status will stand out in the poor market square.  She befriends a beggar child and is able to rub dirt all over her fine clothes and get directions to the home of her cousin.  Alas protocols will not allow Willow to see Jade and she is forced to return home in disgrace.  The only reward for her enormous efforts has been a glimpse of the wonderful snow covered mountains that surround the city.  Jade longs to see these mountains again.  She makes three important discoveries.  She finds joy in painting, she sees images of her beloved mountains in the school room (an area forbidden to girls) and she makes a see saw. Historical information at the back of the book explains the significance of this and other Korea traditions.

The ending of this little book did seem rushed but in just 86 pages Linda Sue Park crafts a very authentic feel of Korea and of Jade herself. You can read some reviews here. I have been a huge fan of Linda Sue Park ever since I read A single Shard.

This book reminded me of In the Shadow of the Palace so you might like to look for this one in our school library too. You should also look at the picture book Ruby's wish by Shirin Yim Bridges.  The image below comes from the illustrator web site.

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