Sumi's First Day of School Ever

Overview

The first day of school can be lonely and scary, especially when you don't speak the same language as everyone else. Sumi only knows one phrase in English, "Hello, my name is Sumi." This doesn't seem nearly enough to prepare her for a big school with wide stairs, noisy children, and a mean classmate.

From the author of the Ezra Jack Keats Award winner Dear Juno comes this thoughtful picture book about a young Korean girl on her first day of school. Beautiful, expressive ...

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Overview

The first day of school can be lonely and scary, especially when you don't speak the same language as everyone else. Sumi only knows one phrase in English, "Hello, my name is Sumi." This doesn't seem nearly enough to prepare her for a big school with wide stairs, noisy children, and a mean classmate.

From the author of the Ezra Jack Keats Award winner Dear Juno comes this thoughtful picture book about a young Korean girl on her first day of school. Beautiful, expressive illustrations show how a considerate teacher and even a new friend help Sumi discover that school might not be so lonely after all.

By the time Sumi finishes her first day of school, she decides that school is not as lonely, scary, or mean as she had thought.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pak's (Dear Juno) tale stars an immigrant girl's first school day, which ends on a hopeful note, despite a difficult start. The author establishes the warmth of Sumi's home life with her mother teaching her how to say her name and accompanying her to school. But when Sumi sees the big building and how loud and noisy the children are, she concludes, "School is a scary place." The spare sentences emphasize the isolation Sumi feels, while Kim's (Duck Song) soft-edged illustrations convey the poignant emotional content of each page. When her mother leaves the classroom, Sumi decides, "School is a lonely place." The illustration focuses on Sumi's apprehensive face in the foreground as she grips her lunch box, her mother receding in the upper left-hand corner. When a boy makes fun of her, Sumi thinks, "School is a mean place." A multicultural bevy of students smirk in the background as a close-up of Sumi's face subtly conveys her brave but devastated reaction. After three examples of unkindness, Pak offers three examples of considerate behavior. ("Maybe school is not so scary.... Maybe school is not so lonely.") With a final underscoring of the theme, Sumi tells a new friend her name, and they walk hand-in-hand into the "not-so-lonely, not-so-scary, not-so-mean class together." Ages 3-7. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Sumi's first impression is that school is a very lonely, scary, and mean place. The language is foreign to her. She only knows how to respond when someone asks her name. As the day progressed, Sumi's fears are allayed by a sympathetic teacher and her new friend, Mary. Pak's book has captured the fears faced by children who are non-English-speaking as they enter the world of school, and will help the other children in the class be more empathetic to them. The illustrations in this picture book show Sumi's isolation throughout the story, and end with Mary and Sumi walking hand-in-hand back into school from recess. This will help teachers prepare their classes for the new student, and help children see school from the newcomer's perspective. Add this to your list of good titles to read at the beginning of the school year. 2003, Viking, Ages 4 to 7.
— Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Sumi is starting school in America, and is worried because she cannot speak English. When the Korean child enters her classroom for the first time, she thinks, "School is a scary place." Later, when a boy sticks out his tongue and squishes his eyes into slants, Sumi thinks, "School is a mean place." After the teacher talks to him, he says something that Sumi doesn't understand, but she realizes that it is something nice. "Maybe school is not so mean, Sumi thought." After the teacher gives her paper to draw on, and later hangs it up for the other children to see, Sumi decides, "Maybe school is not so scary." Finally, during recess, another little girl asks Sumi her name. "Maybe school is not so lonely, Sumi thought." Pak's text is spare yet rich enough in tone and language to get across the alienation, fear, and loneliness that the child initially faces. The illustrator's choice of oil crayons allows the drawings to have soft edges, thus complementing the harshness of the emotions that the youngster originally feels. Pair this fine title with Helen Recorvits's My Name Is Yoon (Farrar, 2003) for an insightful look into the thoughts and feelings of young immigrants.-Lisa Gangemi Kropp, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The first day of school can be frightening for any child, but when Sumi enters the noisy classroom full of children saying things that she doesn't understand, she decides that maybe school is a lonely, mean, and scary place as well. Her mother manages to teach her two things in English: how to understand when someone asks for your name and how to answer them. The young Korean girl can follow the children's example and sees the kind smiles that her teacher gives her, but still feels alone until another girl crouches beside her to draw in the sand at recess. The pictures give Sumi the courage to give her name when the girl asks for it and with the hope of a new friend, Sumi returns with confidence to the classroom. Warm smudges of color layer together to provide simple illustrations for this sweet tale of a difficult and common experience no matter the ethnicity. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670035229
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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