Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

My Name Is Yoon

Recorvits, Helen (Author)
Swiatkowska, Gabi (Illustrator)
Macmillan 2003. 32 pages
First published: 2003
ISBN: 9780374351144 (hardcover)
9781250057112 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, dialogue

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Yoon is unhappy. She doesn’t fit in at her new school in the United States and she just wants to go back to Korea. To top things off, she doesn’t like how her name looks in English—“Lines. Circles. Each standing alone”—while in Korean, “The symbols dance together.” It takes a patient teacher and a new “ponytail friend” to help her see that “Maybe America will be a good home.”

Recorvits’s rich, spare text, touched with light humour, relies on symbolism to propel the story. At school, friendless and lonely, Yoon tries out other names. Each choice further depicts her emotional state. One day, she wants to be CAT so she can “hide in a corner.” Then she wants to be BIRD so she can “fly back to Korea.”

Luminous full-bleed paintings depict Yoon’s lively imagination as she struggles to find her comfort zone in the new country. In one double-page spread, Yoon imagines herself as a cupcake floating above the students in her class. The image reveals her pensive, physical self in one corner as well as her imaginary incarnation.

Because of its happy outcome, this inspiring story would make an excellent ice-breaker on that unnerving first day of school. It could also be incorporated into a unit on other cultures.

  •  

    Discuss the reasons why Yoon was lonely at first. Why do you think she didn’t want to write her name? What changed her mind?

  •  

    Discuss the ways in which Yoon and her teacher were able to communicate, even though they did not speak each other’s language.

  •  Why did Yoon move to America? What do you think she misses most about her home? Brainstorm a list of things that you would miss most if you moved to a different country. 
  •  

    What does your name mean? How did your parent(s) choose your name? Design a large name card for yourself, and include drawings and words that represent you. 

  •  

    Examine the cover and the illustrations. Talk about what you see and describe what you think is happening in the story. 

  •  

    Discuss how Yoon feels in her new country. What problems does she have? Why does she want to be a cat, a bird, a cupcake? How do the teacher and a new friend help her feel at home? What can you do to help a new student or neighbour feel welcome?

  •  

    Research the origin and meaning of your name. How does your name suit you? Make a class poster with the names and information of all the students.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Physical Education and Health