As we continue our bimonthly theme, Festival of Asian Literature and the Immigrant Experience, I offer yet another picture book by Helen Recorvits and Gabi Swiatkowska. Yoon and the Christmas Mitten follows Korean girl Yoon and her new life in America. Two weeks ago, I posted a review of My Name Is Yoon.
In My Name Is Yoon, Yoon learned how to speak, read, and write in English. Returning in Yoon and the Christmas Mitten, Yoon learns something new in the American culture: Santa Claus and the spirit of Christmas. As described in the front jacketflap of the book, English was something that was taught to Yoon by her parents. However, in this second book, it was Yoon’s turn to teach her parents about Christmas.
Korean Christmas Traditions.
“Look Father!” I said. “Here is a story about Mr. Santa Claus.” I told my father all about the man in the red suit. I showed him the picture of the red-and-white-striped North Pole. I giggled and turned to the page with the sleigh piled high with presents.
My father pushed the book away. “We are Korean. Santa Claus is not our custom.”
I hung my head. “But the boys and girls at school say he will visit on Christmas Eve.”
“Little Yoon,” my mother said, “we are not a Christmas family. Our holiday is New Year’s Day. We will visit our friends the Kim family. We will have fine meal together, and we will wish each other good luck.” – p. 6
Christmas is probably the biggest, most festive holiday celebrated in the Philippines. While reading Yoon and the Christmas Mitten, I found it interesting to look at Christmas in the eyes of a child who does not normally celebrate it with the family.
Out of curiosity, I decided to search the web for Korean Christmas traditions. Luckily I found this article by LoveToKnow about Korean Christmas traditions. While I would love to share what Koreans do during Christmas, I think it best to share instead an excerpt from What Korean Christmas Celebrations Don’t Have.
“…in general the holiday is much more subdued and it is not one of the largest holidays on the Korean calendar. In fact, for many families New Year’s Day is a more important holiday and is spent celebrating with large gatherings, while Christmas celebrations are more popular with teens and children…”
Fusion of Cultures in the Immigrant Experience. I enjoyed reading the Yoon books because it evenly paints a picture of the immigrant experience by showing the differences in the culture, and the point at which both meet. It does not lean toward or favor a particular culture. Like My Name Is Yoon, Yoon and the Christmas Mitten is an adorable read. It’s hard to say much without ruining the plot for you. But suffice it to say that Yoon retains the free-spiritedness that she has in the first book. Also, Gabi Swiatkowska’s illustrations in the Christmas Mitten are simply beautiful, more so in the second book. Now, do yourselves a favor. Grab both copies and read them while you get comfy under the sheets or read them while in the company of your children. =)
NSSC-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. AWB Reading Challenge Update: 62 (35)
PictureBook Challenge Update: 64 of 120
PoC Reading Challenge Update: 23 of 25
Immigrant Stories Challenge Update: 10 (6)