Here I Am by Patti Kim
This wordless picture book is the story of a boy and his family coming to an American city. The signs don’t make any sense, the crowds are huge. It’s noisy and big and confusing. In the boy’s pocket is a red object from home. It reminds him of what he left behind whenever he holds it in his hand. He spends a lot of time at home, not interacting with anyone until one day, he drops his keepsake out of the window where a girl picks it up. The girl heads off and the boy follows her and along the way discovers the greener parts of the city, food he recognizes, and people who are friendly. In the end, he’s planted himself firmly into this new place.
Told entirely in pictures, this wordless book is written by a person who lived through this experience when they came to America from Korea forty years ago. The book has an honesty that runs through it and nicely shows the time that it takes for someone to even see the positive in a new place. It addresses the overwhelming feeling of homesickness and the jarring loss of language that isolates. Beautifully illustrated, this book is one that has intricate images that come together to form a cohesive and powerful whole.
A remarkable capturing of the immigrant story, this book will speak to those who are immigrants and will also help others understand what children from other countries are going through. The choice to make it wordless makes it all the more useful with immigrant populations in our communities. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from digital galley received from NetGalley and Capstone Young Readers.