Seesaw Girl

Seesaw Girl

4.4 10
by Linda Sue Park, Mou-Sien Tseng, Jean Tseng
     
 

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Jade never ventures beyond the walls of her family's Inner Court; in seventeenth-century Korea, a girl of good family does not leave home until she marries. She is enthralled by her older brother's stories about trips to the market and to the ancestral grave sites in the mountains, about reading and painting, about his conversations with their father about business… See more details below

Overview

Jade never ventures beyond the walls of her family's Inner Court; in seventeenth-century Korea, a girl of good family does not leave home until she marries. She is enthralled by her older brother's stories about trips to the market and to the ancestral grave sites in the mountains, about reading and painting, about his conversations with their father about business and politics and adventures only boys can have. Jade accepts her destiny, and yet she is endlessly curious about what lies beyond the walls. A lively story with a vividly realized historical setting, "Seesaw Girl" recounts Jade Blossom's daring attempts to enlarge her world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first novel set in 17th-century Korea centers on 12-year-old Jade Blossom, daughter of one of the king's advisers. With all the temerity of a 1990s girl, Jade plays tricks on her brother (with the help of her cousin Willow), and her yearning to see the world outside of her family's walled household ultimately leads her into trouble. She conceals herself in a basket on market day and catches her first glimpse of the mountains as well as a group of imprisoned Dutch sailors, whom she describes as wearing what looks like "yellow or brown sheep's wool on their cheeks and chins." Park manages to get across many of society's restrictions on girls and women, but often relies on telling rather than showing. For example, Jade says how much her view of the mountains affects her, yet she never describes what it is about the vista that moves her. Readers gain little insight into Jade's relationship with other members of her household or her daily routine. Though the novel glosses over the meaning of the Dutch sailors' appearance, a closing author's note helps to put it into context. Fortunately, Jean and Mou-sien Tseng's animated black-and-white drawings fill in many details missing in the text concerning dress and setting. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this historical look at Korea, readers are taken to the third century of the Choson Period (1300-1880), when upper class females were not allowed to leave the inner court of their family compound. Young Jade Blossom feels so confined by this and other confining traditions that she plays pranks on the boys, escapes to the outside world for a brief time, and even dabbles in the male art of painting. All of these things must be done in secrecy, so she longs to be granted great freedom, but her culture cannot allow it. Her final solution is to invent a seesaw that is used by jumping on instead of sitting on each end. She can then jump above the walls of her family home and see the outside world. In a novel that is historically accurate, right down to the social attitudes of rebellion, Park offers a touching portrait of a courageous girl. The book also includes a helpful historical afterward by the author with a bibliography. 1999, Yearling, $4.50 and $14.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Alexandria LaFaye<%ISBN%>0440416728
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Life in 17th-century Korea is not easy for a girl, even for the daughter of a wealthy family. Jade Blossom must learn to do the laundry, sew the clothes back together after each washing, help in the kitchen, and embroider flawlessly. Her world is circumscribed by the walls of the Inner Court where she will spend her life until she marries and then will be confined to the Inner Court of her husband's household. However, when her aunt and best friend since childhood gets married, Jade is determined to see her again. Park maintains a fine tension between the spirited girl's curiosity and her very limited sphere. Certainly Jade looks for opportunities to expand her horizons, but after her first disastrous foray to see Willow, she learns that those chances have to come within the walls of her own home. The story is full of lively action and vivid descriptions, enhanced by appealing black-and-white paintings, to give a clear sense of the period and reveal the world as Jade sees it. Even the minor characters have substance. The girl's parents are understanding but not indulgent. Her father is a thoughtful man, distant from the family, but looking at the possibilities for the future of his country. Her mother recognizes Jade's longings and shows her that it is possible to be content with her life. Like Jade's stand-up seesaw, Park's novel offers readers a brief but enticing glimpse at another time and place.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In 17th-century Korea, the life of a noblewoman is extremely circumscribed: she leaves the inner court of her family home only to marry, or to attend a funeral. Jade, 12, is deeply attached to her older cousin Willow, and keenly feels the loss when Willow is married. She pesters her older brother Tiger Heart, however, to tell her tales of the market, the king's court, and the strange prisoners with red and gold hair; she longs to see the mountains she can barely glimpse above the family compound wall. The seesaw of the title, a Korean game, forms the climax of this quiet book and the key to Jade's seeing beyond her tightly enclosed world. The writing gracefully describes the extended structure of the family, the differences in how boys and girls of noble birth were educated, and the elaborate wedding ceremony. Park's afterword tells of a Dutch ship that ran aground in Korea near the time of the story, and what happened to the prisoners Jade's father defended. The evocative descriptions and Jade's intensity in creating new ways to learn will capture and hold readers. (b&w illustrations, bibliography) (Fiction. 8-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547391687
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/14/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
704,961
Lexile:
810L (what's this?)
File size:
14 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal book A Single Shard and bestseller A Long Walk to Water. She has written several acclaimed picture book texts. She lives in Rochester, New York, with her family. For more information visit www.lspark.com.


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