Seesaw Girl

by Linda Sue Park

Other authorsMou-Sien Tseng (Illustrator), Jean Tseng (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2001

Status

Available

Call number

PB Par

Call number

PB Par

Local notes

PB Par

Barcode

1510

Publication

Yearling (2001), 112 pages

Description

Impatient with the constraints put on her as an aristocratic girl living in Korea during the seventeenth century, twelve-year-old Jade Blossom determines to see beyond her small world.

Awards

Texas Bluebonnet Award (Nominee — 2002)

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

1999

Physical description

112 p.; 5.29 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member vsnod
This book was really interesting. It was very enlightening to read about another culture as well as another time period. It is a great book for compare/contrast or just getting a good read about another culture in a historical fiction book. It is a great chapter book starter for early elementary
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students.
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LibraryThing member ewang109
Park, L.S. (1999). The seesaw girl. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Books.

In Seesaw Girl, twelve-year old Jade Blossom dreams of going beyond the Inner Courts. She is bored of cleaning ceremonial clothes, which involve ripping apart the seams and hems, washing them, drying them and beating
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them with a stone to remove wrinkles. Jade wants to go to the marketplace or venture out to the mountains. However, as a girl from the noble Han family, her adventurous attitude is not welcomed. She is supposed to embroider, wash clothes, and prepare herself for marriage. Is this enough to make her happy? She decides that it is not, so she devises a plan to see beyond the Inner Courts.

At the end of Seesaw Girl, the author provides a note about the historical context. The story is an honest portrayal of 15th century Korea. It accurately reflects familial and societal values and attitudes toward women. During the Choson period, women from noble families were restricted in their activities. They were not permitted to leave home until marriage. Even then, once a woman was married, she left to live with her husband’s family, not the family in which she had grown up. The author says that she “imagined a life with little access to the outside world” (p. 92). A woman’s role was at home, embroidering clothes. Women did not receive formal education. Careers of becoming artists or writers were only for men.

There are also many famous Korean paintings of the mountains. Park believed that there were probably women like Jade who yearned to see the mountains. The language also reflects the time period. For instance, when Jade speaks to her father, she uses formal and proper Korean. In the 1600s, speaking to a father was a serious matter. Women, especially a daughter, could not casually talk to their fathers, because it was considered flippant.

Lastly, the black and white illustrations by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng extend the story. They give readers a better idea about what an aristocrat’s home would look like and the type of clothing a noble would wear. Overall, the illustrations enhance the understanding of the plot, setting, and characterization.
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LibraryThing member Jill.Barrington
Jade Blossom, a young girl of wealth in Korea during the seventeenth century, learns a valuable lesson about the world beyond her limited view. She goes against the grain of her traditional familly quite often, mainly due to her curiosity regarding the world outside of her home, which she has never
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been allowed to see before her independent excursion. Jade learns about herself and what she values throughout her adventures.
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LibraryThing member SarahLinfield
This is a great book for upper elementary students to be exposed to.
Students will have more of an idea of people from a different culture. Students will try to relate to this character, and also find many differences that have to do with family, expectations, honor, and destiny.
LibraryThing member aalkurd
What a touching tale! I can completely relate because sadly, this is how society is overseas current day. I love how she broke away from the constraints of society. I love how the outside world moved her. A very good read.
LibraryThing member peyrobs
This book was really interesting. It was very enlightening to read about another culture as well as another time period. It is a great book for compare/contrast or just getting a good read about another culture in a historical fiction book. It is a great chapter book starter for early elementary
Show More
students.
Show Less
LibraryThing member tramtran
Jade Blossom was born in one of the wealthiest and highly respected family in Seoul. Her father was an important advisor to the king. In seventeenth century Korean, there were many limitations and restriction on girls, especially those from the royal family. Jade Blossom wasn't allow to leave her
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house until she marries. Many times, Jade would ask her brother many questions about the outside world and the places he had been. She couldn't understand why her brother get to go on adventures, reading and painting, and talk about politics while she was expected to tend the house chores. This book provide a little glimpse into a girl's life in Korea back in the day. I think it's so interesting to learn some of their traditions back then. It was mentioned in the book that once a girl is married, she's no longer belong to her family but her husband's family.
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LibraryThing member rwilke
The story in this book is set during the Choson period (1300-1900) when Korean girls were not allowed to leave their homes, and sets the stage for the main character, Jade Blossom, a brave girl with a lot of curiosity! The book is mostly text, but almost every one of the 17 chapters feature a
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full-page illustration. Media: watercolor printed in gray scale. This book is a wonderful example of historical fiction, because in this genre, stories are set during real times with real facts, but the character in this story, Jade Blossom is a fictitious character, she isn't real. However, many of Jade's experiences that are described in the book, were everyday experiences for girls in upper-class families during that time period. The seesaw in the book was a common pastime for children to play with, and I have seen them in historic informational texts about Korea's history.
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LibraryThing member jennybeast
On the one hand, I enjoyed the depiction of women's lives in medieval Korea very much (fascinating!), and I was extremely pleased that there weren't more serious consequences for Jade's misdemeanors. On the other hand, her discovery of art seemed almost like an afterthought, tacked on at the end,
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and it didn't quite gel for me. I am fascinated by the Korean seesaw -- sounds tricky, dangerous and invigorating. Great short read.
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Pages

112

Rating

½ (38 ratings; 3.9)
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