Here I Am

Here I Am

5.0 4
by Patti Kim, Sonia Sánchez

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Newly arrived from their faraway homeland, a boy and his family enter into the lights, noise, and traffic of a busy American city in this dazzling wordless picture book. The language is unfamiliar. Food, habits, games, and gestures are puzzling. They boy clings tightly to his special keepsake from home and wonders how he will find his way. How will he once again


Newly arrived from their faraway homeland, a boy and his family enter into the lights, noise, and traffic of a busy American city in this dazzling wordless picture book. The language is unfamiliar. Food, habits, games, and gestures are puzzling. They boy clings tightly to his special keepsake from home and wonders how he will find his way. How will he once again become the happy, confident kid he used to be? Walk in his shoes as he takes the first tentative steps toward discovering joy in his new world. A poignant and affirming view of the immigrant experience.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
…winsome…Sonia Sánchez's freewheeling, richly colored panels overlap and bleed into one another, mirroring the child's rapid shifts from wonder to trepidation to longing, as well as the absorbing, ever-changing rhythms of city life. Kim and Sánchez bring to their lively pages the heightened perceptions of the recently arrived.
Publishers Weekly
★ 09/30/2013
In a nearly wordless picture book, Kim and Sanchez examine the difficulties, adjustments, and eventual triumphs that accompany one boy's transition from an unspecified Asian nation to New York City with his family. The book's very wordlessness highlights the boy's unfamiliarity with English—signs on storefronts read as gibberish; a teacher neatly writes "bla bla bla" on the chalkboard—and Sanchez's palette veers from the dull tans and grays of the airport to the shocking blue and yellow lights of the city at night with a page turn. The boy is initially despondent, cranky, lonely, and bored—his only comfort is a red seed he carries, a memento of home. When that seed finds its way into the pocket of a girl skipping rope outside the boy's brownstone, he's finally drawn into the city, learning to embrace street food, friendly pigeons, and the smells wafting from a corner cafe. For children who have moved to an unfamiliar country or town, it's a sensitive reminder that they are not alone; for others, it'll be an eye-opening window into what those kids are going through. Ages 5–10. Illustrator's agent: Teresa Kietlinski, Prospect Agency. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Using blocked cartoon style-shapes to house realistic looking characters, the author and illustrator work together to create a seamless story focused on a young boy who is leaving his home country—probably somewhere in Asia—to live someplace else (a subway map positioned a few pages in would suggest New York City). At first, the boy is clearly miserable in his new situation, but when he finds a keepsake from home in his pocket, he seems to gain strength from it. As days go by, he is clearly unwilling to leave the new apartment. But when he drops his keepsake (a red seed) out the window and onto a girl jump-roping, he is forced to leave the apartment and look for her and his seed. The longer he looks, the more he becomes interested in his new home. When he finally finds the girl, they plant the seed together, and this is, seemingly, the beginning of a long friendship. This is a strong text for younger readers and will really allow reader and teacher/parent to work on critical thinking skills as the youngster works out what is happening throughout the book. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-08-15
Beautiful, evocative pictures tell the story of a boy who comes from an Asian land to a big U.S. city. Images in this virtually wordless, slender graphic novel range from dreamlike curlicues to bold, dark cityscapes and emotional vignettes. The boy looks out of the window of a plane, great sadness in his body language. He and his father, mother and baby sister go through a crowded airport and a noisy and bewildering city to a small apartment. He finds the subway and the streets confusing, and he does not understand anything at school. The boy cherishes a red seed he has evidently brought from home. By accident, he drops it out the apartment window and then goes on a frantic search for it, finding new and interesting places along the way. He discovers he loves big, salted pretzels and shares some with the pigeons. When a girl with bouncy braids and beads in her hair climbs a tree and hangs upside down, the red seed falls out of her pocket. She and the boy plant it together, and as the seasons pass, friendship, seed and baby sister grow. An author's note describes the storyteller's voyage at age 4 from Korea to Washington, D.C. Sánchez has captured a kaleidoscope of emotion and powerful sensations in a way children will grasp completely. It's The Arrival for younger readers. (Graphic novel. 5-10)
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—In this visually impactful wordless book, Kim tells the story of a young boy who immigrates with his family to a new country. Scared and uncomfortable, the child keeps a seed from his homeland as solace in the midst of the unfamiliar surroundings, classmates, and language. When he loses it, the youngster goes out to explore and finds new wonders, from the neighborhood pretzel stand to making friends to discovering the rewards of planting old seeds in new soil. Sánchez's engaging mixed-media illustrations are expressive and effectively utilize white space. The innovative page layout and design significantly incorporate graphic-novel elements to tell the story, using panels of differing sizes, line color, and width, and superimposing panels on a larger background image. Kim and Sánchez have created a unique picture book that explores important themes relevant to many young readers, including immigration and adjusting to a new home.—Ted McCoy, Oakland Public Library, CA

Product Details

Capstone Young Readers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 11.16(h) x 0.34(d)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Patti Kim was born in Pusan, Korea, and immigrated to the United States on Christmas of 1974 with her mother, father, and older sister. At the age of five, she thought she was a writer and scribbled gibberish all over the pages of her mother's Korean-English dictionary and got in big trouble for it. Her scribbling eventually paid off. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Maryland. She is the author of A CAB CALLED RELIABLE. She lives with her husband and two daughters who give her plenty to write about every day. This is her first children's book.

Sonia Sánchez lives with her boyfriend and a sleepy-head cat in a blue house near the Mediterranean Sea. She paints with both traditional and digital brushes and likes a lot of texture in her work. She loves children's books and her favorite illustrators are Quentin Blake and Fiep Westendorp. Sonia studied illustration at Pau Gargallo's Arts and Design School of Badalona in Spain. Her illustrations have been published abroad in books, magazines, on graphic posters and textile designs for clothing.

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Here I Am 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
MomsChoiceAwards More than 1 year ago
A recipient of the Mom's Choice Awards! The Mom's Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for parents and educators and is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. Using a rigorous evaluation process, entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media trust the MCA Honoring Excellence seal when selecting quality products and services for families and children.
NancyLibrarian More than 1 year ago
With no words, only lively pictures, a clear story is told of a child leaving an Asian culture of fear and violence and, with his family, moving to a Western, possibly American, culture and dealing with culture shock, homesickness and finally making a new friend and showing signs of settling in. Not only is the book useful for empathy for new kids, it can be used to build vocabulary, storytelling, or just verbalizing in a new language. And, it is a compelling story, not dull or wooden, though not good for reading aloud to a group--you have to see the pictures up close to enjoy the book. Impressive work!
CanadaInker4 More than 1 year ago
They say a picture's worth a thousand words and this little book "Here I Am" certainly proves that theory.  Wordless, with beautiful, whimsical, moving pictures the book touches your heart as you feel what it is like to be a brand new immigrant in a brand new country.  The main character, a boy of approximately nine or ten, struggles as he boards a plane and heads off with his family to an unfamiliar country where he doesn't know the language, has no friends and must attend a foreign school.   He carries with him an object from his homeland....a red seed.  He clings to it, cherishes it as it represents his beloved past life that he cannot ever return to.  One day he accidentally drops the seed through his apartment window and a neighbour girl who is out skipping rope picks it up and pockets it. That is the turning point in the story.  With his seed gone he now musters up the courage to leave his apartment, venture out into the local community and experience his surroundings with fresh eyes.  He learns that his present life is not so scary after all and once he embraces that concept he actually finds many satisfying and even funny moments as he wanders around checking out the neighbourhood.  As he assimilates into his community he stumbles across the neighbour girl who is hanging upside down in a tree.  His seed falls from her pocket and together they plant it symbolizing his freedom from his past and permitting him to embrace the potential and possibilities of his "now" home.  If you are that immigrant family then this is the perfect book to share with each other.  It will make your children realize they are not alone, that fear can be conquered and that change can be a very positive thing indeed.  Also, if you are a teacher with immigrant students in your classroom, what a perfect book to choose for story time.  After you narrate the book and discuss its meaning you can set your foreign students' emotions free and enable them to say ,"Here I Am."  On the other hand, your regular students can say,  (just like Neytiri in James Cameron's Avatar said to Jack),  "I see you."  And what does that phrase, "I see you" mean?  It simply means I see someone completely now, beyond their skin and into their heart and I am here to be their friend. Be that teacher and plant that seed of acceptance and love into your students today.
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
I opened Here I Am on my e-reader and, because I didn't read the synopsis closely enough, I was surprised to find that the story is told completely in pictures. There is no text whatsoever! And it moved me to tears. The concept of portraying a child's experience of moving to a foreign land is brilliantly executed. I think my favorite part is how the signs around him - in town, in school - are complete gibberish at first, and slowly become more clear as time passes. The artwork is just stunning. It captures every feeling and new experience perfectly: lonely, overwhelmed, excited, curious, happy. The sights and smells and even motion felt so real when looking at these pages! Sanchez is a truly gifted illustrator. I remember feeling many of the same emotions as the boy in this story when my family moved to Italy when I was a kid. Here I Am is an encouraging book for children of immigrants, expats, or even members of the military, whether the family is moving to the United States or leaving it to live somewhere overseas. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.