Juna and Appa

Lee & Low. Jul. 2022. 32p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781643792279.
K-Gr 2–Juna’s favorite day of the week is usually Saturday, when she can join Appa at their dry-cleaning store. They always end the day eating carne asada tacos at the food truck across the street. But on this Saturday a very angry customer has set both Appa and Juna on edge as they look for the man’s missing coat. Even though Juna tries to be helpful, she just seems to get in the way. As she waits for her appa, she is transported to the natural world, where she learns about how animal fathers care for their young. This inevitably makes her think of how Appa takes care of her, bringing Juna and readers back to the shop. Although it is never revealed if the excursions to animal habitats are simply daydreaming or a bit of magical realism, readers will eagerly go along with Juna in her explorations. Detailed watercolors in muted tones add to the magical atmosphere. Back matter includes information about these special father/child relationships and an author’s note explains a personal connection to the story. Some readers might be disappointed that the central conflict, a customer losing his coat, is never resolved, but this is a good jumping-off point for group discussion or a writing activity.
VERDICT As a window into Korean American culture and a reminder of the importance of parents throughout the animal kingdom, this title will be a welcome addition to many collections.

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