Cover image for My name is Yoon
My name is Yoon
Recorvits, Helen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Frances Foster Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24x 26 cm
Disliking her name as written in English, Korean-born Yoon, or "shining wisdom, " refers to herself as "cat, " "bird, " and "cupcake, " as a way to feel more comfortable in her new school and new country.
Reading Level:
320 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.3 0.5 69900.

Reading Counts RC K-2 1.6 1 Quiz: 34463 Guided reading level: I.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Getting to feel at home in a new country

Yoon's name means Shining Wisdom, and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn't sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names - maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!

Helen Recorvits's spare and inspiring story about a little girl finding her place in a new country is given luminous pictures filled with surprising vistas and dreamscapes by Gabi Swiatkowska.

My Name Is Yoon is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Author Notes

Helen Recorvits is the author of two books for older readers, Where Heroes Hide and Goodbye, Walter Malinski , an NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. She lives in Glocester, Rhode Island.

Gabi Swiatkowska has illustrated one other picture book, Hannah's Bookmobile Christmas by Sally Derby. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K^-Gr. 2. "I wanted to go back home to Korea. I did not like America. Everything was different here." Yoon doesn't want to learn the new ways. Her simple, first-person narrative stays true to the small immigrant child's bewildered viewpoint, and Swiatkowska's beautiful paintings, precise and slightly surreal, capture her sense of dislocation. Reminiscent of the work of Allen Say, the images set close-ups of the child at home and at school against traditional American landscapes distanced through window frames. In a classroom scene many children will relate to, everything is stark, detailed, and disconnected--the blackboard, the teacher's gestures, one kid's jeering face--a perfect depiction of the child's alienation. By the end, when Yoon is beginning to feel at home, the teacher and children are humanized, the surreal becomes playful and funny instead of scary, and Yoon is happy with friends in the wide, open school yard. Now she is part of the landscape. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

"My name is Yoon. I came here from Korea, a country far away," begins Recorvits's (Goodbye, Walter Malinski) first-person narrative, as noteworthy for what it leaves out as for what it includes. Swiatkowska's (Hannah's Bookmobile Christmas) opening spread similarly conveys a sense of starkness, with a landscape of rolling hills and towering trees in small clusters; the serene narrator appears in a white dress. With a turn of the page, readers see Yoon dwarfed by the seemingly endless checked flooring of her new American house. She sits at a large white table where her father teaches her to write her name in English ("I did not like YOON. Lines. Circles. Each standing alone. My name looks happy in Korean. The symbols dance together"). At school, Yoon refuses to write her name. Instead, she fills her paper with other words she learns from the teacher, such as cat. "I wrote CAT on every line. I wanted to be CAT.... My mother would find me and cuddle up close to me." Yoon's words betray her sadness and insecurity at relinquishing some of her Korean identity, while Swiatkowska's painterly artwork translates the girl's fantasies. A close-up of Yoon's face shows feline ears protruding from her jet-black hair, while in the background, a real cat balances on a window sill. A turning point comes when a classmate offers Yoon a cupcake, and the heroine imagines herself as one; her round face a leafed cherry atop the pastry as she floats above the classroom. Yoon may be new to America, but her feelings as an outsider will be recognizable to all children. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-A Korean child, feeling at odds in her American school, tries out various personas before accepting her English name. The stunning oil paintings reveal the girl's active imagination, positive attitude, and shining wisdom. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.