Here I Am

illus. by Sonia Sánchez. 40p. Picture Window. 2013. lib. ed. $27.32. ISBN 9781404882997; pap. $7.95. ISBN 9781479519316. ebook available. LC 2012051009.
Gr 3–5—In this visually impactful wordless book, Kim tells the story of a young boy who immigrates with his family to a new country. Scared and uncomfortable, the child keeps a seed from his homeland as solace in the midst of the unfamiliar surroundings, classmates, and language. When he loses it, the youngster goes out to explore and finds new wonders, from the neighborhood pretzel stand to making friends to discovering the rewards of planting old seeds in new soil. Sánchez's engaging mixed-media illustrations are expressive and effectively utilize white space. The innovative page layout and design significantly incorporate graphic-novel elements to tell the story, using panels of differing sizes, line color, and width, and superimposing panels on a larger background image. Kim and Sánchez have created a unique picture book that explores important themes relevant to many young readers, including immigration and adjusting to a new home.—Ted McCoy, Oakland Public Library, CA
This wordless graphic novel–style picture book, told through detailed, mixed-media panel illustrations, explores one boy's life after immigrating to America. One day he drops a seed (a keepsake from home) out of his window. A girl picks it up, and his search for her draws him out of his loneliness. Newcomers to any country will find a lot to talk about here.
This wordless graphic novel–style picture book, told through detailed, mixed-media panel illustrations, explores one boy’s life after he and his family immigrate to America. The first panel shows the sad little guy looking with trepidation out the airplane window at the skyscrapers of his new city. Arriving at the airport, he’s greeted by signs he can’t read (illustrations show random letters and numbers), with shades of grays and browns reflecting his misery and trepidation. The only bright spot is a small red seed, carefully carried from home, in his pocket. Once ensconced in his new home, the boy lives an isolated life, refusing every opportunity to interact with the outside world—until one day, he accidentally drops the red seed out of his brownstone window. A little girl picks it up, and his search for her finally draws him out of his loneliness, leading him into an exploration of his new neighborhood and to his first friendship. Newcomers to any country, and the adults who work with immigrant children and their families, will find a lot to talk about here. (An appended author’s note describes Kim’s own experiences when she moved with her family from Korea to the United States as a child.) Read this alongside Aliki’s Marianthe’s Story (rev. 9/98) or pair it with Shaun Tan’s The Arrival (rev. 11/07) for older children. robin l. smith

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