Sora’s Seashells: A Name Is a Gift to Be Treasured

Candlewick. May 2023. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536209938.
PreS-Gr 2–Sora loves Halmoni, her Korean grandma, and they have an idyllic summer together gathering seashells on the shore. Halmoni always leaves the prettiest shells for strangers, while Sora amasses her own beautiful collection. Everything becomes more complicated when Sora starts kindergarten: she endures bullying for her name and then receives the devastating news that beloved Halmoni has died. Overcome, Sora decides to Westernize her name—until her parents comfort her with the knowledge that it translates to “seashell” and was Halmoni’s suggestion. Bolstered with pride for her Korean name and in remembrance of her grandma, Sora finally understands Halmoni’s lesson of how generosity can bring joy when she shares her precious seashell collection with her classmates—even the bullies. Though this story is ambitious in the number of themes it explores—family, cultural connections, bullying, grief, loss, and the importance of kindness—Sora’s emotional journey is genuinely poignant, striking a balance between sweetness and sadness that will resonate with readers of all ages. Softly textured, expressive watercolor illustrations complement the gentle text, creating a wholly comforting feel throughout.
VERDICT Recommended for picture book collections, especially where books about grief and loss are needed.

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