The Asian Reporter 19th Annual
Scholarship & Awards Banquet -
The Asian Reporter's
From The Asian Reporter, V15, #34 (August 23, 2005), page 16.
A magic fruit
By Yangsook Choi
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005
Hardcover, 32 pages, $16.00
By Josephine Bridges
Itís August, 1976 in Puchon, South Korea. Itís been raining for days, and Yangsook canít go out to play. She has a homework assignment to write about the best thing in her town, and at least thatís easy. "Peaches," the girl writes. Puchon is famous for its peaches, "big and sweet, with rosy skins and pale, juicy insides," which are shipped all over Korea, but Puchonís marvelous peaches are so expensive that Yangsook can never get enough of them.
As Yangsook works on her homework, giant hailstones begin to fall and the water rises so high that out in the yard her familyís shoes are "floating around like little boats." Tethered to a house post by a long rope tied around her waist, the girl wades into the deluge to investigate objects falling from the roof and is astonished to find something utterly unbelievable pouring out of the sky.
Based on a true story, Peach Heaven isnít just about delicious fruit and wild weather. Itís also about understanding that whatís great for some people may be terrible for others, and about what the fortunate ones can do for those who havenít fared so well.
In addition to writing this autobiographical tale for children ages four to eight, Yangsook Choi illustrated it, and my what luscious pictures! There are hundreds of succulent peaches between the covers of Peach Heaven, as well as peach leaves, peach trees, peach pits, and even some luminous peach blossoms at the very end of this lovely book.
In an authorís note at the end of Peach Heaven, Yangsook Choi writes, "In Korean mythology and culture, the peach is regarded as a magic fruit that brings a long and happy life. It symbolizes peace and is thought to be a strong defense against evil." Pictures of peach gardens, representing a harmonious world, hang all over Korea.
You might want to have a few real peaches on hand when you read Peach Heaven, because youíre sure to wind up craving them. Better yet, savor this book in the shade of a peach tree in August.