Park's (A Single Shard) novel, set in 1999, is part history lesson, part martial arts adventure; it begins with a rather shaky premise but quickly pulls in readers. Twelve-year-old Kevin, a Korean-American math whiz who dislikes social studies ("Names and dates and places from ages ago. Boring, boringer, boringest"), is shocked to discover an arrow-and the archer who took its aim-in his bedroom one afternoon. The intruder identifies himself as "Koh Chu-mong, Skillful Archer," and Kevin nicknames him "Archie." A search on the Internet reveals that Archie was born in 55 B.C. and founded the Koguryo kingdom (now Korea); he explains his chronological detour to Kevin: "I lost my balance, fell off the tiger, and landed here." Kevin raises the same questions that readers may have ("Fell off a tiger? Who was this guy?"). But the logistics soon take a back seat to Kevin's breakneck mission to discover enough details about Archie to return the king to his own place and time. Along the way, popular folktales about this Korean hero come to light, and a credible friendship grows between man and boy. The conclusion wraps hastily, and supporting characters, including a museum curator and Kevin's parents come off sketchily. But the relationship between Kevin and Archie, and their race against the clock (with the Chinese Zodiac and Kevin's math skills both playing a part) to set things right will keep the pages turning. Ages 9-13. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
East meets West and ancient history meets A.D. 1999 New York in this latest offering from Linda Sue Park. Kevin feels his life is plain and boring until Koh Chu-mong, Skillful Archer, travels through time (from 55 B.C., to be exact) and arrives in Kevin's bedroom, piercing his hat with an arrow. The story follows Kevin's quest to return to his homeland of China, now called Korea. Chock full of adventure and even historical informative tidbits, this book will hold the attention of many and fills the gap of choices for those reluctant male readers, as many will identify with the main character. No violence, no drama, no mush. Kevin's character matures during the course of this story from an apathetic student to one intrigued by his heritage and desire to entrust himself, allowing him to come to the aid of a helpless foreigner in a strange new land. At first Archer's arrival seems a little far-fetched--how could he have gotten into Kevin's bedroom?--but Park's careful weaving of characters and twists somehow strengthen this fantasy, using everyday activities to return Koh Chu-mong to his rightful century. An equally delightful choice for historical fiction or sheer escape. Park will take you on a journey you could never have imagined. Following the story are charts of the Chinese Zodiac, an author's note, and the reasoning behind the math problem in discerning the element cycles. Pretty nifty! 2006, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin, Ages 9 to 13.
Kevin, a modern American sixth grader, is surprised one night by the sudden appearance of a fully armed archer in his bedroom. After some tense minutes, he learns that the archer is Koh Chu-mong, a Korean king and folk hero from 37 BC. Realizing that he must get Chu-mong home, Kevin becomes Chu-mong's guide as they try to discover a way to accomplish their goal. Along the way, the two become friends and Kevin learns about his Korean heritage and the value of discipline and hard work. Park mixes Korean legend, Chinese astrology, and contemporary settings for a story that, while episodic, is a breezy, fun read. Although Chu-mong sometimes comes off a bit two-dimensional and didactic, he is a fascinating character. One hopes that readers will be encouraged to research the legends behind the man after being teased with the three legends that Park includes. Although the author does not shrink from putting her characters in danger, there is little doubt that they will prevail. The novel's one failing, however, is in its ending. The ultimate solution to Chu-mong's plight seems more random and stumbled upon than the result of a reasoned investigation in which the characters have engaged. Still the novel is well written and the subject will appeal to many upper elementary and lower middle school readers. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2006, Clarion, 176p., $16. Ages 11 to 14.
Kevin dreads his social studies homework. After all, why memorize things you will never need? As he is throwing a rubber ball against the wall, he hears a loud noise and an arrow darts through his hat, pinning it to the wall! The strange older man that appears calls himself Chu-mong and claims he is from Koguryo, now known as Korea. He says he was riding a tiger in the mountains before finding himself with Kevin in New York. Kevin and the Archer discover they were both born in the year of the Tiger. They realize there is one more day left in this year of the Tiger, and they must find a way for the Archer to get back to his country in 55 B.C. Kevin learns his heritage comes with fascinating stories and is amazed at what the Archer is able to do. Along the way the Archer tells Kevin he is successful because he keeps his eye on the goal and practices regularly. Practice is not boring; our minds can make anything interesting.
Gr 4-7-Park weaves Korean history and lore into a time-travel fantasy. Sixth-grader Kevin is home alone in Dorchester, NY, when an arrow flies through the air, pinning his baseball cap to the wall. Imagine his surprise to find a man claiming to be Koh Chu-mong, the Great Archer from a Korean kingdom in the first century B.C., in his bedroom. Archer claims to have fallen off the tiger he was riding, and has somehow landed in Kevin's bedroom. Much humor comes from the clash of the ancient and the modern. Archer is amazed and at times frightened by cars (surely powered by dragons), telephones, the computer, lights, and even a bed. Kevin, the grandson of Korean immigrants, is an ordinary kid, bored by school, especially history class. He feels that he is very different from his father, a programmer at a local university who loves math and precision. However, the need to get Archer back in time makes Kevin step up to the challenge. He takes the man to the local museum, but that idea doesn't help. A suspenseful trip to the zoo to see the tiger seems promising, but that tiger is from India, not Korea. During their wanderings around town, Archer tells wonderful stories of Korean history and legend. Finally, Kevin uses all his powers of reasoning and deduction to find the solution to Archer's quest to return home. In the process, the boy learns that ordinary people can do extraordinary deeds and comes to appreciate his dad. Although perhaps not as great as previous, award-winning books by this author, this tender title is still most worthy of attention.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This brisk time-travel yarn propels a modern 12-year-old boy into a tangle of Korean history, the Chinese Zodiac and the age-spanning skill of archery. Facing a typical latch-key Monday, Kevin is shocked by an unusual bedroom intruder: Ancient Korean leader Koh Chu-mong, (fresh from riding a tiger in 55 B.C., and conveniently conversant in charming English), lands in Dorchester, N.Y. in 1999. As he and Kevin resolve their mutual incredulity, a goal unites them: Twenty-four-year-old Chu-mong must return to the past to lead his people. The narrative, peppered with Chu-mong's expert archery, Kevin's crucial math calculations (both inaccurate and corrected) and frantic research (via a phone conversation with his grandparents and online library resources), flows swiftly to a tidy, earthy resolution. One tiny quibble: Fully a third of the novel transpires before it's revealed that Kevin was born in 1987, a fact crucial to the story's mathematical resolution. Potentially, this jars the reader expecting a wholly contemporary protagonist. Still, the satisfying feats of archery, Kevin's urgent, believable puzzling and Chu-mong's ultimate re-launch add up to an exciting novel for male readers, both reluctant and engaged. (historical notes) (Fiction. 9-12)
"An exciting novel for male readers, both reluctant and engaged." Kirkus Reviews
"The relationship between Kevin and Archie, and their race against the clock...will keep the pages turning." Publishers Weekly
"This new offering from the Newbery Medal-winning author of A SINGLE SHARD...will intrigue and amuse readers." *Starred* Review KLIATT
"Effective storytelling, middle-grade humor, and a quick pace" Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books