Let’s Play Ddakji

Brown Bks. Nov. 2022. 44p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781612545837.
Gr 2-4–In a story that invites readers to learn about or know more about games, Kim Woo is excited for the school year to come to an end so that he can concentrate on his ddakji (dak-gee) skills; he is obsessed by the game and believes that it should be played with folded paper, not cheap plastic. At the community center near where he spends each summer, many children are gathered to play the favorite Korean game, which involves throwing a folded paper tile to the ground to strategically hit an opponent’s. Woo is confident his gold tile will win against everyone playing. He believes that a girl, Gorin, is being strategic as she waits to throw her tile, but when she does, she takes Woo’s gold tile and everyone else’s. As is custom, she takes the tiles home. That night, Woo lurks outside her home, hoping to ask for his tile back, but he is surprised by Gorin, who invites him in. She shows him her collection of tiles. He is amazed that she has kept so many, but she explains that she enjoys the memories of the games played and would like to open a ddakji museum one day. Woo gains an understanding of ddakji as a way for Gorin to connect to her late father, who played the game to relax; he, too, starts to see beyond gameplay. The author includes information about ddakji, including how to play, how to make a paper tile, and the origins of the game. The illustrations look like cut-paper, dynamically depicting all the action and colorful pairing with the events of the story.
VERDICT For any young reader fascinated by games, this is a simple story that has multiple approaches for discussion and use.

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