Luminarias Light the Way! An Intercultural Children’s Story.
Henry Huh is a Korean American sixth-grader living in the Phoenix, Arizona suburb of Chandler. He loves his life just the way it is, but is forced to deal with change and cultural difference when a new girl moves to his school from small town Minnesota. With the help of a mysterious journal, Henry cultivates self-awareness, engages his curiosity, begins to develop intercultural competence, and ultimately makes a commitment to building a new friendship.
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“This story is really fun! I love the multicultural mixes and juxtapositions that occur so smoothly. I really like that Claire is a strong character, that the Korean elements are handled with sensitivity and skill. This idea of nunchi is so powerful and so very very wonderfully woven into the storylines – just enough to explain and not so much that it’s preachy or like getting hit over the head with a brick. I really like the quality of the relationship Henry has with his dad. That was so refreshing. I suppose I read too much teen fiction, and a lot of the realistic fiction that’s coming out now reads like a bad after school special. Henry’s family is strong and supportive. Nice to have that for a change. The grandmother character is just charming… The journal is such a cool touch – an interesting way to create a narrating character. Its description is great – kind of like the diary from Harry Potter, only not sinister… The subtle “different-but-the-same” idea that keeps popping up is nicely done, through language, games, and other childhood activities. Overall – just a really fun read. For this age group, you’re right on the money.” – Elly, Youth Librarian and Professional Storyteller
“Very interesting and informative. I learned things I definitely didn’t know, even about the differences between AZ and Minnesota which are both within the US! I definitely could see myself reading it to my kids and I could see my olders picking it up off a shelf and reading it on their own as well. I really liked the characters. They seem completely believable and actually Henry’s character taught me a lot I did not know about Korean culture.” – Melanie, LGBQT advocate, parent of three girls and one boy.
“We both enjoyed the story. It’s a sweet and exciting little adventure. The messages are obvious enough for kids to pick up on, but not so glaring that it is cheesy. We like that the characters are likeable, but also flawed. We both remarked on the graceful weaving of references to several different cultures into the story.” – John and Christy, elementary educator, children’s authors, and parents of two boys and one girl.
“I absolutely loved the story!! I would totally read it to (my son) because of its message. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes before you judge; or in this case judging before you reflect on the situation. So many times kids think other kids are just weird or different and that is only because they do not know them or understand them. I loved the dynamic of the grandma sending the message to Henry in a way that it made him stop and think. The foods were a bit tough to comprehend but other than that – I followed perfectly. Understanding that all cultures are different. I especially loved the explanation as to why they were hesitant in opening the front door!! This type of book is great for children right now. We have so many kids who are 1/2 this and 1/2 that – that it provides insight not only from the kids perspective but also from the parents.” – Jenn, real estate agent and parent of a biracial son.
“I liked everything!! :)” – Sophia, nine-year-old reader.
“I just finished reading your story … Wow. I really really like the theme, the way you have put several levels of culture in there. It felt very real, and open.” – Susanne (Germany)
“Well done! I told my husband that this is exactly the kind of intercultural book I would want to read to our (future) children some day. I look forward to reading more of your children’s fiction in the future.” – Dr. Laura Bathurst (U.S.)
“I did not want the book to end! You definitely have the ability to write from a child’s perspective, singling out the elements that a child would note and that would be of interest and making connections based on his or her limited knowledge and emotional world. So much sensitivity and finesse! There also was a tremendous sensual quality to the book. Be it the sounds I could practically hear, the food I could smell and all the descriptions that draw you in (for example clothes characters wear). From the intercultural point of view it was very clever too, dealing with prejudice (here with the excuse of innocence? or not? interesting topic) head-on, normalizing expressions, foods and customs of other cultures and regarding one’s own culture, it truly portrayed how we incorporate and mix and mingle local culture and culture of origin in a seamless way. It is a great conversation starter for kindergartens, schools and parent-child groups.” – Esther (Canada)
“I have read your story: my compliments! I like it very much, it is great! I like how you blend three ‘cultures’ in one story – not only Korean-American but also Arizona and Minnesota. I also thought you have done it in a very natural way. I also like the two sections at the end and the wealth of topics you managed to highlight in one story. Well done!! The book functions as a kind of mirror that helps Henry understand what is going on and how he can help Claire settle in. It is now not only a story about cultural differences, but also about fitting in as a newcomer and helping a newcomer to fit in. That is great and very valuable!” – Marian (The Netherlands)
“I very much enjoyed reading your story; you are very creative indeed! You found a very natural way to depict the issues that bi-cultural kids face between home and school environments – and I really liked the role that the journal took on!” – Carolina (Colombia & U.S.)
“I received your book about 2 weeks ago and it’s fantastic!!!!! You did a superb job! I really enjoyed reading it and hope that it will someday be used in the classroom. It’s a very effective way of promoting intercultural communication.” – Lea (U.S. & France)
“I read your story and enjoyed it very much! I think you did an excellent job of highlighting cultural differences, from deep to surface culture, in a way that is age and culturally appropriate and accurate. I enjoyed the mystery and mysticism, and the various messages and lessons to take away.” – Tamara (U.S.)
“Just wanted to let you know that we enjoyed reading your lovely book this evening. You did a marvelous job of threading together different languages, customs, and foods in an entertaining format. We have ourselves lived in 4 different states, and additionally, have had extended visits in 4 other different states, through visiting family and friends and vacationing. In each one we marveled at the differences and the delights we discovered in each area. Now we only wish that we could have carried a “magic journal” like Henry’s to record and remind us of our thoughts and actions.” – Jim & Kathie (U.S.)