Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell

Picture Book Around the World: Reading Through Korea I’m working hard on my Picture Book Around the World sequel to Picture Book Preschool, my preschool read aloud curriculum for homeschooling your preschooler or kindergartner. This week at Semicolon, we’re going to be visiting Korea through the medium of a treasure trove of picture books featuring that country and its children.

Soo Min comes from Korea to join her adoptive family in the United States. Everything is strange and foreign to her, except for Goyangi, the cat. When Goyangi slips out the open front door and is lost, Soo Min feels lost and alone, too, and only the return of Goyangi the cat can make Soo Min feel at home in this new place.

This book is unlike the others I’ve reviewed this week in that it’s set in the U.S, not in Korea. However, the story gives insight into Korean culture and life, highlighting Korean vocabulary and opening the door to empathy for young readers who can imagine what it would feel like to be a new place where they couldn’t understand the language or the customs. Goyangi the cat becomes a familiar comfort for Soo Min as she navigates her new life in America.

Christine McDonnell, the author of this simple adoption story, is the mother of two Korean-born children. Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, the illustrators are a married couple who used “paper collage and acrylic and oil paint” to create the artwork in the book. “The Patterns used in the paper collage were selected to reflect the Eastern and Western worlds of Soo Min.” Korean words written in Korean hanja are embedded into each of the illustrations.

So, are you ready to earn some Korean words (with English spelling, not hanja)?

Gom=teddy bear

We have a dog named Domo, from the Japanese (abreviated) “thank you”. Maybe our next cat, a very unlikely acquisition, will be named Goyangi, if I can figure out how to pronounce the word. This picture book is informative, but it doesn’t include a pronunciation guide.

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