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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 09/2019
  • 9781480881464
  • 34 pages
  • $16.95
Sun Min
Author
Jane Under Pressure: The Life of a Korean American Schoolgirl
Sun Min, author

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Jane is ten years old but doesn't do things most children her age do. Instead of playing with friends and having fun, Jane spends most of her time studying. In her book, Jane under Pressure: The Life of a Korean American Schoolgirl, author Sun Min shares Jane's dilemma. She feels the stress of school and the pressure to get stellar grades. Outside school, Jane takes cello, taekwondo and extra math lessons. For her, it is more than simply wanting to do well. She wants--needs--to do well to make her family proud. But when she falls short of her expectations, Jane learns what is most important. Sun Min's story is of a young girl juggling the demands of being an American schoolgirl and her family's culture. While her story is not unusual, it is not always understood, even among those involved.
Reviews
Min’s debut picture book draws young readers into the childhood of Jane, a 10-year-old Korean-American student facing pressures imposed by her family. Her days are full of studying and extracurriculars, and her hobbies must be wedged in at the edges of her busy schedule. Despite her stress about being pressured to succeed, she is determined to make her family proud when she performs in an upcoming cello competition. As she prepares, she learns more about where her relatives’ expectations come from.

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.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: B+
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 09/2019
  • 9781480881464
  • 34 pages
  • $16.95

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