Friday, October 4, 2013

Here I Am - a book review

 "From every book invisible threads reach out to other books; and as the mind comes to use and control those threads the whole panorama of the world's life, past and present, becomes constantly more varied and interesting, while at the same time the mind's own powers of reflection and judgement are exercised and strengthened."
                                                              ~Helen E. Haines

Title:  Here I Am
Author:  Patti Kim
Illustrator:  Sonia Senchez
Ages:  5-10

They say a picture's worth a thousand words and this little book "Here I Am" certainly proves that theory.  Wordless, with beautiful, whimsical, moving pictures the book touches your heart as you feel what it is like to be a brand new immigrant in a brand new country.  The main character, a boy of approximately nine or ten, struggles as he boards a plane and heads off with his family to an unfamiliar country where he doesn't know the language, has no friends and must attend a foreign school.   He carries with him an object from his homeland....a red seed.  He clings to it, cherishes it as it represents his beloved past life that he cannot ever return to.

One day he accidentally drops the seed through his apartment window and a neighbour girl who is out skipping rope picks it up and pockets it. That is the turning point in the story.  With his seed gone he now musters up the courage to leave his apartment, venture out into the local community and experience his surroundings with fresh eyes.  He learns that his present life is not so scary after all and once he embraces that concept he actually finds many satisfying and even funny moments as he wanders around checking out the neighbourhood.  As he assimilates into his community he stumbles across the neighbour girl who is hanging upside down in a tree.  His seed falls from her pocket and together they plant it symbolizing his freedom from his past and permitting him to embrace the potential and possibilities of his "now" home.

If you are that immigrant family then this is the perfect book to share with each other.  It will make your children realize they are not alone, that fear can be conquered and that change can be a very positive thing indeed.  Also, if you are a teacher with immigrant students in your classroom, what a perfect book to choose for story time.  After you narrate the book and discuss its meaning you can set your foreign students' emotions free and enable them to say ,"Here I Am."  On the other hand, your regular students can say,  (just like Neytiri in James Cameron's Avatar said to Jack),  "I see you."  And what does that phrase, "I see you" mean?  It simply means I see someone completely now, beyond their skin and into their heart and I am here to be their friend. Be that teacher and plant that seed of acceptance and love into your students today.

About the author:

Author of A CAB CALLED RELIABLE. Born in Pusan, Korea. Immigrated to the States on Christmas of 1974. Thought she was a writer at age five, scribbled gibberish all over the pages of her mother's Korean-English dictionary, and got in big trouble for it. Has two kids of her own now. Lives with them and her husband in relative peace and happiness.

Book Review Rating:  9  ( Close to perfection!)

Read on and read always!   Have a wonderful, safe day.  

                        *This book was compliments of NetGalley. Thanks to them.  Ideas and thoughts are my own.

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