Jane is instantly relatable as a young girl with trouble balancing her long-term goals and her momentary joys. It is clear that her family is incredibly important to her, and Min carefully contextualizes their constant pushing for Jane to apply herself: it stems from a belief that, with practice and hard work, she can accomplish anything. When Jane connects with her aunt over essay writing and with her mother while practicing cello, the reader will feel their love and support.
Simple digital illustrations of Jane in various situations face pages of straightforward text. The story is best suited to a slightly younger audience who will enjoy sounding out the occasional Korean vocabulary, which is well explained. The slightly stilted English of Jane’s immigrant relatives sounds accurate rather than stereotypical and is easy to read aloud. Min provides glimpses of Korean culture as Jane and her family venerate ancestors, put on traditional clothes for the holiday of Chuseok, and cook seaweed soup. Readers of all backgrounds will find it easy to connect with Jane’s longing for time to herself, love for her family and her cat, enjoyment of karaoke, and powerful emotions during the competition.
Takeaway: Younger children of all backgrounds will enjoy following 10-year-old cellist Jane through the the pressures and joys of life in her Korean-American family.
Great for fans of Matt de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street, Jacqueline Woodson’s The Day You Begin.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-