Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A place to grow and Dear Juno

A place to grow
by Soyung Pak

Ages : 4-8

Keeping in the mind the essence and spirit of Saffron Tree's multi-cultural objective, I am reminded of this beautiful book that I had the opportunity to read a few months ago. It was an accidental find in the library shelves, and I was so entranced by it that I had reviewed it, albeit briefly, on my personal space, but it deserves more than a few lines....and Saffron Tree is just the place to do it.

When you turn over the cover of the book, the first thing you will read is this line...A family is like a seed. It needs a good, safe place to grow. This is the central thread in the book and it is skillfully interwoven by comparing the care a seed needs to flower and blossom, to that of a human being living in a country who also needs equal nurture.

A little girl is helping her father in tilling the garden and preparing the soil for planting. It is that time of the year when the earth is soft and the seeds flying in the wind, find thier gardens to grow in and finally land. Her father too has flown a long way to grow into a family. All seeds travel, says her Dad.

She asks him why. He tells her that a seed needs land to grow. And not just any land, but the kind that is good and warm and like a cozy home. Some lands are not of this kind and filled with too many guns and not enough love. So the seed flies with the wind.

She asks him why. He tells her that a seed needs sun to grow. But the sun doesn't shine on everything, and it doesn't shine where the shadows fall, which is what happens when there are enough dreams but not enough hope. So the seeds flies with the wind.

She asks him why. He tells her that a seed needs rain to grow. The rain that fell on our seed came only now and then, and sometimes not at all., which is what it is like when there are too many workers and not enough work. So the seed flies with the wind.

Some seeds just make a short hop, while some seeds fly a long way till they find the garden that's just right for them. So the girl and her father sit thier garden, with the soft dirt underneath thier feet and the starry night above. And looking at them, you know that there grows a garden inside thier heart.

Whilst reading this to my 3 and 1/2 year old, I thought that perhaps it wasn't the most age appropriate book for him, to understand the subtle undercurrents that flows through thier conversation. But then again, children take home different things from thier reading experiences at different points of their growing hood. And as a parent, it might just be in our hands to add our own perceptions to thiers. After all, a lot of us too are familiar with being separated from our roots and from the people we some ways, this book may get us thinking about our own personal choices to be this far and why we continue to live with that choice.

So moved was I by this book that I was excited to discover the very first book written by Soyung Pak.

Dear Juno

by Soyung Pak

Ages : 4-8

Dear Juno is a very simple story about a little Korean boy who has just received a letter addressed to him from his grandmother in Korea. He is very excited to read the letter, but he cannot because it is written in their native language. And his parents are too busy just then to sit and read it to him. So what does he do? He decides to open it and see what's inside. To his surprise, he finds a few things besides the actual letter that helps him understand more about his grandmother and her life there, and also the possible contents of her letter to him. And thus he reads the letter on his own bridging the gap of distance that separates him and his grandmother.

And he composes a reply on his own too, but not with words. The letter is posted, and a few weeks later, he receives a package from his grandmother, who has understood his language and replies to him again. This time too....he understands perfectly without the medium of words and thus it goes on. A bond is forged and the ways and means to that are simple and sweet.

So are you curious on how the boy and his grandmother talk to each other? Pick up the book and delve right in!


Praba Ram said...


What a perfect pick keeping in line with the main objective of Saffron Tree!

The list of books that I want to read to my daughter is indeed getting longer...Saffron Tree is also like the title of the book "a place to grow" - a place to grow the love of reading and books. The reviews are like little seeds we are planting in the blogspace...:-)

You got me all curious about "Dear Juno" - my daughter is in a kind of similar situation like Juno - My parents who came to the US to help us with the baby left for India just this week. Since their departure, my daughter has told me several times how much she misses them. We planned this vacation mainly because we knew this would be the case. It would have been a worse feeling had we stayed back at home for her winter break. May be I can have her write a letter to her grandmother too...:-)

Thanks for the recommendations! Will certainly check them out in January!

Meera Sriram said...

Great reviews, topped off with a suspense! I seem to be drawn to the author and her works. While I am eager to get hold of 'A place to Grow' for myself, I am equally excited about reading Dear Juno to my daughter who often makes little "projects" (read: strokes of paint and glued paper bits, wonder what kind of common hieroglyph they have! ) for her grandparents back in India. Thanks Tharini for the pointers.

Tharini said...

Hi certainly are not out of touch on your vacation.:) Hope its fun.

I'm glad you and Meera liked and were curious about Dear Juno. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Artnavy said...

You have provoked my interest- Hope i can find this book in Chennai Landmark.

Related Posts with Thumbnails