Monday, December 28, 2020

Nobody Knew My Name: Danbi Leads The School Parade by Anna Kim

On my first day of my new school in America, my heart beat "BOOM BOOM."

Mama held me and whispered, "Listen to your teacher and eat your lunch."

I said, "Don't worry, Mama, I will be good today!"

But beyond that red door, Danbi sees everyone in the class staring at her. The teacher smiles and shows her how to write her name, and Danbi does, but she doesn't understand what anyone is saying and she doesn't know how to play any of the games. Danbi tries, but it's embarrasing when her one block makes the whole tower fall. No one plays with her. Finally the teacher claps her hands and everyone pulls out lunch boxes.

"That I know how to do!" thought Danbi.

She opens her tall round lunch box, and there is a fancy feast--yams in honey, crystal dumplings, sweet and sour mini skewers, rainbow drops half-moon rice cakes. Amid their peanut butter and cheese sandwiches and juice boxes, they look exotic. The other kids are wowed! Danbi notices that the girl next to her is looking wishfully at her lunch box,

The girl next to her was looked hungrily at her lunch... so Danbi gave her a rainbow drop.


Ooops! The rainbow drop drops back into Danbi's lunch box. The girl doesn't know how to eat with chopsticks. Everyone laughs and Danbi gives her a lesson. Then Danbi has an idea: She taps on her lunch box with one chopstick.


The girl taps the other chopstick on her juice box.


And Danbi and her new friend begin to march around the room drumming on their lunch boxes and soon the whole class joins them . They play together at recess, and afterward her new friend Nelly teaches her to write her name and then they write both names in English letters... on their cubbies, side by side:


There are first days of school and then there are first days of school in a different country and in a new language, and Anna Kim makes use of her own experiences at school in America to give young readers an glimpse at how hard it is to be a stranger in a strange school, in her upbeat first day story, Danbi Leads the School Parade (Viking, 2020). Kim's story from the standpoint of being a really NEW kid at school is told with great understanding for all involved in Danbi's first day, and the author's artwork is charming and vivacious in the style of Hilary Knight's memorable illustrations for Kay Thompson's classic Eloise books. Kirkus Reviews gives this new one a rave starred review, saying, "Enchanting illustrations dazzle—particularly through the diverse characters’ hair and facial expressions that detail individuals’ unique traits while celebrating the entire cohort. Imaginative, irreverent, improvisational fun in kindergarten."

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