The Color of Earth

The Color of Earth

4.6 6
by Dong Hwa Kim

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First love is never easy.

Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers - both neighbors and strangers - look down on her mother for her single lifestyle. Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village. But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love

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First love is never easy.

Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers - both neighbors and strangers - look down on her mother for her single lifestyle. Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village. But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa slowly begins to open up to the possibility of love in her life.

In the tradition of My Antonia and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, from the pen of the renowned Korean manwha creator Kim Dong Hwa, comes a trilogy about a girl coming of age, set in the vibrant, beautiful landscape of pastoral Korea.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This manhwa-first in a trilogy-chronicling the lives of a single mother and her daughter in rural Korea is a moving and evocative look at love as seen through the eyes of one feeling it for the first time and another who longs to savor it once more. The story follows daughter Ehwa from age seven up as she discovers the physical differences between boys and girls, grows into young womanhood and undergoes her initial confusing experiences with attraction and romance. Ehwa's interest is piqued by a young Buddhist monk, a lad whose interest is mutual but doomed to futility thanks to his faith's strict code of celibacy. Meanwhile, Ehwa's mother, who was widowed at an early age, finds her loneliness soothed by the attentions of an artistic traveling salesman known only as "Picture Man." Their relationship later helps Ehwa understand much about the joys of making a romantic connection. This book has no conflict other than that common to youthful competition over boys, but it is a work of great humanity that sucks the reader in. Kim's artwork is stunning, and seldom has a male writer captured the attitudes, emotions and behavior of female characters so believably. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Michael Jung
Korean writer/artist Kim Dong Hwa weaves a poetic tale of sexual awakening in this Korean graphic novel (or manhwa) which forms the first episode in his The Story of Life on the Golden Fields trilogy. Here, readers meet nine-year-old Ehwa, an innocent girl just beginning to become aware of her own sexuality. As Ehwa grows, she receives sex instruction from both good and bad instructors, including her widowed mother, who likens sexual maturity to seeds and flowers as well as lecherous neighborhood boys who consider Ehwa a freak for her lack of a penis. Still not all the men in Ehwa's life are ignorant boors, as she also meets a good-natured artist who reawakens old desires in her mother and a young monk who develops feelings for Ehwa. Beautifully illustrated, the book's black-and-white manhwa art ranges from cartoonishly silly when depicting the drunks in Ehwa's mother's tavern to photo-realistic when illustrating trees, flowers, and animals. Readers will also appreciate that the translation includes footnotes that explain the more obscure figures of speech and references used by the characters. It should be noted, however, that the book's themes and artwork are intended for a mature audience and do not shy away from depicting adult material like nudity, female periods, or wet dreams. At the same time, many readers will be pleased to find that Hwa has managed to craft a sensitive story of sexuality that does not resort to gratuitous sex scenes. Reviewer: Michael Jung
Library Journal
Highly regarded in Korea, where his "Color" trilogy was first serialized in 1992, Kim has cross-cultural appeal. In this lyrical coming-of-age manhwa set a century ago in rural Korea, young Ehwa grows up under the fond eye of her widowed tavern-keeper mother. The increasingly pretty girl attracts the randy village boys, but she is drawn to less attainable and more sensitive lads: a local apprentice monk, a farmer's son schooled elsewhere, and a handsome worker from a different village. Intercut with Ehwa's tentative steps toward love is her mother's intermittent and achingly sweet liaison with a traveling painter, helping to deepen their complex mother-daughter relationship. Although the art, plot, and dialog have poetic beauty and charm, Kim still incorporates earthy and disturbing elements: male customers verbally harass Ehwa's mother, while Ehwa shows her distaste for her girlfriend's sexual explorations. VERDICT Kim's elegant trilogy will have strong appeal for its literary quality and offers key historical and cultural information, with a reading group guide included in the last two volumes. Sexual content and nudity, presented discreetly. For older teens and up.—M.C.
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up–A coming-of-age story set in rural Korea a few generations ago. Ehwa is a beautiful young woman who, over a series of vignettes, learns about her body and how men and women make babies. She suffers the pain of her first unrequited love for the boy monk Chung-Myung (who also suffers from his own forbidden love for her). She also finds herself attracted to Sunoo, a rich son of an orchard owner who studies in the city. While Ehwa discovers her own desires, her widowed mother finds love again with a traveling picture salesman. The story revolves around the close relationship the women share as Ehwa becomes her mother’s main ally and confidante. The illustrator uses flowers in many of the vignettes to explain aspects of love or to represent his characters and their relationships. While the book begins when Ehwa is seven and only takes her into her early teen years, the nostalgic tone and slow pacing make the title more likely to appeal to older readers. The artwork is beautiful, particularly in Hwa’s depiction of the landscape and the two main characters. A good additional purchase for libraries looking for less action-oriented manga/manhwa titles.–Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Manga master Kim releases the first in a trilogy of graphic novels that trace the coming of age of a young girl in pastoral Korea. Ehwa lives with her mother, a widowed tavern keeper ostracized by fellow villagers for her independent lifestyle. But an unexpected visit from a traveling salesman ignites a flame of desire in her mother that lays the groundwork for Ehwa's exploration of her own sexual awakening. Flower and water motifs course steadily through the author's erotically tinted observations of daily life, but the breathtakingly elegant line drawings of Korean landscapes elevate the use of such standard metaphors for fertility and sexuality. Furthermore, the author is able to evoke nuances of emotion from stock-character forms in a genre not known for its subtlety. Despite his best intentions, however, yang clearly overpowers the mystique of the yin in this opener: Stereotypes-among those referenced here are that women talk a lot, are emotionally fragile and must rely on men for their sexual fulfillment-dot the otherwise unblemished landscapes that saturate this enchanting meditation on love and longing. (Graphic novel. 14 & up)

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Product Details

First Second
Publication date:
Color of Earth Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
GN600L (what's this?)
Age Range:
15 Years

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