My Name Is Yoon

by Helen Recorvits

Other authorsGabi Swiatkowska (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2014






Square Fish (2014), Edition: Reprint, 32 pages


Disliking her name as written in English, Korean-born Yoon, or "shining wisdom," refers to herself as "cat," "bird," and "cupcake," as a way to feel more comfortable in her new school and new country.

User reviews

LibraryThing member pstone
Korean American girl finds her place in a new country.
LibraryThing member jckeen
Yoon, an elementary school girl, just moved to the U.S. from Korea. Her parents want her to learn English, but she's not so sure. Through the patient and kind guidance of her teacher, Yoon explores using different words for her name. It is a delightful story that offers a window into the world of an English Language Learner, and a lens through which an ELL can identify.… (more)
LibraryThing member melissafourroux
This book is about a little girl named Yoon and her family who have come to American from their homeland of Korea. Yoon does not want to be in American and doesn't understand why she must learn a new way of life. Her parents are insistent on having Yoon practice writing her name in English and she feel sad that her name does not look "happy" anymore. When in school, Yoon struggles to find her place and names herself cat, bird, cupcake and a couple of others. She eventually finds a friend and is eager to just be "YOON!"

This story reminded me of a brother and sister who were placed in my 4th grade class when I was a child. They both knew no English and struggled to fit in. It was very difficult for them at times not knowing the rules or what was expected of them, but they learned quickly and soon had lots of friends, including myself.

I would have the children draw the "names" Yoon calls herself in the book. I would then discuss the attributes of being a friend. We could discuss together as a class good and bad examples of how to be a "friend." I would let the children share any experiences good or bad that they have had.
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LibraryThing member emgriff
Yoon has just moved to the United States and is about to start school. When she is taught to print her name in English she rejects it, prefering the way the characters look in Korean and the meaning they have. Because she doesn't identify with "YOON" she imagines her name as the other words she is learning in school: "CAT," "BIRD," and "CUPCAKE." This is a story about adjusting to change while remaining true to one's own identity. Yoon is a likable, believable character who I think many children, especially those who have experienced moving or learning a second language, could identify with. The illustrations are light and painterly, with an unusual surreal quality that takes some getting used to. While I personally find the style unappealing, I feel that the illustrations suit the feel and message of the text well. Recommended for lower elementary school students, especially in areas with a recent immigrant population.… (more)
LibraryThing member kellidenise
This book is a story about a little girl named Yoon who has moved to America from Korea with her family. Her father teaches her to write her name in English, but Yoon likes her name written in Korean better because it looks happy. When Yoon goes to school, she writes CAT, BIRD, and CUPCAKE on her papers instead of her name. Yoon feels lonely, but finally makes a friend who gives her a cupcake. Finally, Yoon is read to write her name in English and realizes that although the language is different, her name still means Shining Wisdom.

I thought this was a great story! It was very simple and easy to read. Although the text is simple, the reader can feel Yoon's sadness and lonliness. I felt sorry for the little girl and was happy that she found a friend in her new country.

In the classroom, I would use this book for any foreign students. I would also let any foreign students in the class teach the children how to write their names in the different language. If a student from another country joins our class, this book (or one relative to the student's background) may be suitable to read aloud so the other students can understand the new child's feelings.
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LibraryThing member acmckee
Yoon has just moved to the US from Korea, and is very homesick. It is difficult for her at school, because she feels confused and different from the rest of the students, and she does not want to write her name in English. Her father encourages her to give it time and work hard, and she does. Eventually she makes some friends and gets to know her teacher, and she feels better about her new home. She finally feels happy enough to write her own name in English!… (more)
LibraryThing member kjarthur
A lovely story about a young Korean girl who is trying to find her place in America. Embracing her differences means that she can be herself and be happy in her home.
A touching and to-the-point story.
LibraryThing member vossc2009
This is story nice because it goes through and dicusses this child that comes to American from Korea. It shows what she struggles with and how she over comes those issues. I think this is a great book for young children to read because it's very realistic. I would read this to first through third graders.
LibraryThing member sjordet
Yoon, a young girl whose family has immigrated from Korea, experiences her first day in an American school. Yoon thinks her name written in Korean is beautiful and dislikes it written in English. Wishing she had another name, Yoon proclaims to her teacher that her name is "bird" followed by "cat" then "cupcake." As Yoon becomes more acclimated in her new classroom, she grows to accept her name and finally declares, "I am Yoon."

This story is perfect for classrooms in which there is an English as a second language learner or a new student in the class from a different country. The story describes the struggle that some new students might face when adjusting to not only a new place but a new culture. "I am Yoon" will help students understand how a new student might feel as they discover their identity in a foreign place. The book is a great teaching tool.
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LibraryThing member hollster74
Yoon and her family have immigrated from Korea to the United States. On her first day of school, she learns to write her name in English. Each day she learns new English words and each time she introduces herself as one of those new words (i.e., Cupcake). This is a touching story in which a little girl struggles to find out who she is in a new country; she eventually establishes her own unique identity by embracing both Korean and American cultures. Yoon is an endearing character, and this is a picture book that has remained one of my favorites long after reading it.… (more)
LibraryThing member alishamcbride
I love the book My Name is Yoon. It is a book about a young girl’s struggles with her move from her native country of Korea to America. In the beginning of the book, Yoon feels that everything about America is bad including its writing system and its school system. She would rather be in Korea where “The symbols dance together” and where her former teacher liked her. As the story progresses, Yoon discovers that America is not as bad as she thinks. She becomes comfortable with the writing system, she makes a friend, and she even discovers that her teacher in America does like her. The theme of this story is wonderful because it is so real. The book depicts the struggles that many students must overcome as they move to a new place. My favorite aspect of the book, however, is the illustrations. The author does an excellent job depicting the Korean culture. The illustrations are not very cluttered, but they are appropriate for the text. It appears to me that the illustrations have been completed with pastels or watercolors because they are so soft and subtle.… (more)
LibraryThing member Ms.Penniman
Retelling: Yoon and her family came to America from Korea. At first, Yoon was reluctant to embrace her new home. She kept thinking about how Korea was better and refused to write her name in English. Instead, she wrote other English words she learned. In the end, she began to think that maybe she would grow to accept America as her home.

Thoughts and Feelings: This book is written in the third person omniscient. You can hear what Yoon is thinking as she chooses not to write her name in English. I wonder what her teacher would think if she too heard those thoughts. I like how patiently her teacher waited for her to come around, despite not knowing the little girl's thoughts.
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LibraryThing member jennymilagro
Yoon is a little girl who has just moved to America from her home country Korea. When she gets to America, Yoon must learn to write her name, which means Shining Wisdom, in English before starting at her new school. Howeever, Yoon does not like the way her name looks written in English because all of the letters stand alone, When Yoon begins her first day at school, she feels alone and misses her home more than ever. For a while, Yoon feels like she wants to be anyone or anything other than herself. But with time, she begins to find that she, too, can feel at home in America, where her name still means Shining Wisdom.

I would teach this book to ESL students. Students can talk about their own identity to classmates.
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LibraryThing member matthewbloome
This is very rewarding story about a child coming to accept that she has moved to a place with a different culture where she can continue to stand by her original culture. This was an awesome book, right up there with Thank You, Mr. Falker or Ida B. for its delicate treatment of personal issue for many children.
LibraryThing member KelseyAnnB
I thought this book was interesting. I have always found names and their importance very fascinating. My grandfather had to change his name when he moved to America from the Philippines when he was a teenager, and I have always wondered what that must have been like for him, so I was fascinated by Yoon's story.
LibraryThing member kbarge1
I really enjoyed this book for many reasons. One thing that I liked about this book was the descriptive language that the author used. I found that the word choice and sentence structure in this story were very powerful. For example, when introducing Yoon to her name written in English, the author's use of language paints a clear picture of Yoon's opinion of her name for the reader. She states, "See how the letters dance together...not like Yoon. Lines. Circles. Each standing alone." The author includes Yoon's name written in Korean for the reader to observe and understand what she means when she says that the letters "dance together." She also gives a visual description of how Yoon sees her name written in English and why she does not like it. I also thought that the illustrations in this story were extremely powerful. The illustrations of the people are extremely realistic, particularly from the details in their faces. The illustrator uses different shading techniques to show texture, and includes other details such as the crevices on their faces to make them seem real. I also like that the illustrations portray what Yoon is thinking. For example, when Yoon writes "Cat" where her name is supposed to go on her worksheet, the illustration shows Yoon with cat ears as she imagines being a cat. The illustrator continues to do this when Yoon imagines herself as a bird and as a cupcake. I think that these images enhance the story by allowing the reader to get inside of Yoon's head and see what she sees and feel what she feels. I also really liked the way the story was organized. The author continues the pattern of Yoon giving herself different names and imagining herself as those things. I thought that this repetition made the story flow nicely and made it somewhat predictable. I believe that the big idea of this story is that it is important to acknowledge and accept differences while also preserving your individuality. Yoon is able to eventually learn that although her name looks different when written in English, it still means Shining Wisdom and it does not change who she is.… (more)
LibraryThing member sandratt
this book is about a Girl who moved from Corea to USA, so she have to adapt to different environment.
ages 5-6
From Pierce County library
LibraryThing member quanhtran
The family moved from Korean, when she went she didn't write her name with American letter. She just wrote her name the cat, the birth, cupcake. but latter on she wrote her name with American latter.
Age group 3
Pierce college library
LibraryThing member alexis.smith
As a young Korean girl, Yoon, transitions to an American school, she struggles through some self identity issues. Each day at school, she is handed a paper to write her name on. For the first few days, she writes other words: Cat, Bird, Cupcake. Each day, she struggled to learn the language. After a while, she realized that America was not so bad. She wrote Yoon. She was pleased with herself and all that she had accomplished.
Personal Reaction:
This was such a powerful story. Moving from one state to the next as a child was difficult, so I can't imagine what it would be like in a new country, with a new language. One of the most powerful parts of the book was when she realized that she was just as beautiful and smart in America as she had been at home in Korea. Different can be a good thing!
Extension Ideas:
1. Learn a letter or word in a different language. Try to write it and say it.
2. Think of a word that best describes yourself, or given a list of words (like cat, bird, and cupcake) describe how each one relates to an aspect of your life.
3. Remember a time that you met one of your closest friends. What were you doing when you met?
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LibraryThing member kkerns3
Summary: This book is about a little girl named Yoon and her parents who have just moved to the United States from Korea. Her father tries to teach her how to write her name in English but she does not want to learn because she is afraid it will change the meaning of her name. When her teacher asks her to write her name she writes what is on the board instead. She talks about wanting to be a cat, a bird, and a cupcake, anything that will make her more comfortable in America. After a few days at her new school she is able to make a new friend. At the end of the story Yoon finally writes her own name when she decides that America might not be so bad after all.

Review: I was not a huge fan of this book because I thought the author could have done so much more with it. I think that if this book were for a slightly older audience it would be much more interesting with a more developed plot and more details. There is not a lot of text but most of what there is is meaningful. I like it when she used a string of words that were hyphenated to describe what character eyes were saying. I thought this was an interesting way to get the reader to visualize the scene. Some of the words are also in all-caps which draws the reader's attention to them. I thought this would be good for young readers because it gives them something in the text to focus on. The illustrations went along with the text very well and helped the reader to build on their understanding of the story. I think that the overall message is conveyed at the end of the story when Yoon's teacher sees her paper and says "Aha! You are Yoon!" This shows that Yoon does not need to be anything but herself and that her teacher understands that she is still adjusting to life in America.
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LibraryThing member kamann1
I really enjoyed My Name is Yoon for 3 reasons. The first was that the author made Yoon very relatable and the audience received a lot of information on her character since the book was written through her point of view. The author had Yoon express emotions and ideas very well. Because Yoon is about to begin school and is still adjusting to life in America rather than Korea, she begins to discover that she doesn’t like some of the changes. As her father teachers her to print Y-O-O-N in English, she wrinkles her nose and thinks that her name looks more “happy in Korean, where the symbols danced together,” and her name had a special meaning in Korea.

The book was also really enhanced by the illustrations of Gabi Swiatkowska. As the book explains that children will not always understand what words mean, like when the teacher keeps writing C-A-T and Yoon says she doesn’t know what the word means but the pictures explain the word, Gabi was able to pair vivid images to support and help explain the story. Students like Yoon could look at the pictures and get an idea of what the story meant even if they didn’t understand every word. One final reason that I really enjoyed this book was the moral of the story. As Yoon keeps trying and learning new things she eventually considers that “maybe different is good too.” This doesn’t have to only apply to moving to a new place but can be about learning something new, making new friends, or any type of change that everyone can relate too.
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LibraryThing member jhunt6
My Name is Yoon is a book about a girl named Yoon, who chooses to speak and write in her home language which is Chinese rather than use English. The author and illustrator create an entertaining book about a clever girl for 3 reasons. The first reason I enjoyed this book was because of the illustrations. Although the book was written in English, the illustrator included illustrations to act as a visual aid in Yoon’s defiance to use English. For example, her father was teaching her to write her name in English, but Yoon refused to because she liked the way her name looked in Chinese. Followed by this statement is “Yoon” written out in Chinese. I felt this gave the book a more interactive feel then other picture books. The illustrator also captures Yoon’s facial expressions as well as those around hers, which adds more to the book. You can see the disgust on Yoon’s face when being told to write in English, and her fathers angry expression. Another reason I liked the book was that it was very creative on highlighting how those who are not native speakers of English feel when learning the English language. For example, Yoon explains that she does not want to learn English because she loves her home language. She loves the way it sounds and the way it looks. The author keeps this key idea by repeating the statement “…in Chinese.” Whenever Yoon would do something she made it specifically clear that she did it in Chinese using that statement. Lastly, the writing made the story engaging and flowed very nicely. The book starts with defiance from Yoon, but as you continue to read, you see Yoon slowly breakdown and accept English. The author builds up to that revelation very smoothly.… (more)
LibraryThing member Shellystanley
Summary: This book is about a little girl and her parents who moved to America from Korea. At first she has a very hard time adjusting to living in a different country. She misses her home and she misses writing in her own language. Eventually Yoon starts to make friends and she realizes that life in America may not be so bad after all.

Personal reaction: I really loved this book and I will be adding it to my own personal collection. I found it interesting how Yoon described the Korean language as symbols that dance together. I love how in the end, Yoon proudly writes her name in English on her paper. I thought that this is a great book about loving who you are and also being proud of where you come from.

Extension ideas:
1. In the classroom, the teacher could teach the children how to write Yoon in Korean.
2. The students could find Korea on a globe or map then compare it to where America is.
3. The teacher could have the students draw a bird like Yoon did in the book.
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LibraryThing member JoanAxthelm
A sweet story from the perspective of a young newcomer to the U.S. on finding ways to accept the new world she finds herself in.

LibraryThing member SunshyneBuckarma
Recorvits, Helen, and Gabi Swiatkowska. My Name Is Yoon. New York: Frances Foster, 2003. Print.

Appropriate for the ages of about 4 to 7, “My Name is Yoon”, by Helen Recorvits is about a little Korean girl who has recently moved from her country to the United States. This inspiring story portrays a few of the obstacles Yoon faces in her new country and school. Gabi Swiatkowska’s stunning watercolor illustrations capture Yoon’s emotions and even go to the extent of enhancing the storyline.

I think “My Name is Yoon” honestly portrays the realities of life for today's children, simply by the resistance to change Yoon displays by having to move to a new country and start at a new school. This is especially illustrated in the book when Yoon doesn’t want to write her name in English. Thus she says to her father, “in Korean my name means Shining Wisdom. I like the Korean way better” (Recorvits). Therefore “My Name is Yoon” illuminates problems and issues of growing up in today's world and has universal implications because it shows us that change certainly isn’t easy for children. However it’s a lot easier once you have a positive attitude about it and you go with it. Hence towards the end of the book Yoon states, “The next day at school, I could hardly wait to print. And this time I wrote YOON on every line. When my teacher looked at my paper, she gave me a big hug” (Recorvits).

I believe that the characters in “My Name is Yoon” are convincing and credible to today's child. Hence like “Booklist’s” Hazel Rochman, I think one of Swiatkowska’s illustrations especially highlights this point. The scene is of Yoon’s classroom, which looks pretty bleak and bare, and the teacher as well as one of the students faces almost look frightening “ – a perfect depiction of the child's alienation” (Rochman). I think many children would be able to relate with this.

As I mentioned previously, the negative behavior evident in “My Name is Yoon”, is Yoon’s resistance to writing her name in English. The aftereffects of this are that instead of writing Yoon for her name at school, Yoon writes other names she prefers in English, such as “CAT”, “BIRD” and “CUPCAKE” (Recorvits). I think this type of vivid portrayal of Yoon’s imagination enables Recorvits to avoid stereotyping in the story.

I feel that “My Name is Yoon” truly represents the experience of the Korean/Asian culture. This is especially evident by how focused and driven both of Yoon’s parents are when it comes to her education. An example of this in the text is: “He showed me how to print every letter in the English alphabet. So I practiced, and my father was very pleased” (Recorvits).

I believe “My Name is Yoon” helps children enlarge their personal points of view and develop appreciation for our ever-changing pluralistic society. One scene in which this is particularly obvious is when a Caucasian girl in Yoon class befriends Yoon, by offering her a cupcake (Recorvits).

Works Cited:

Rochman, Hazel. " My Name Is Yoon (Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award, 2004) (9780374351144): Helen Recorvits, Gabi Swiatkowska: Books." Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & More. Booklist, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2010.
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Original language


Physical description

32 p.; 9.25 inches


1250057116 / 9781250057112


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