Mommy’s Hometown by Hope Lim and Jaime Kim

Hello, Hope Lim! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! I’m super excited you’re here to discuss and celebrate Mommy’s Hometown. I lived in South Korea during the 2003-2004 school year and visited Seoul twice in 2019. I’ve returned to your beautiful picture book many times over the past month. (I wish I could visit Seoul right now.) I love spending time in South Korea with the young boy and his mom. I love how your story and Jaime Kim’s illustrations celebrate family, joy, and play!

Hope Lim: Thank you so much, John, and what a coincidence! I was in Korea during those years and knowing that our paths might have crossed in Korea is quite amazing.

What planted the seed for Mommy’s Hometown?


Hope Lim:
A few seeds were planted at the same time. I frequently share my childhood memories with my children, who used to be very curious about where I came from. I have visited my parents in Korea periodically since moving to America and am always struck by the continual changes that have slowly altered my hometown. With every visit, I would take mental notes on things that had disappeared in my parents’ neighborhood and new things that sprung up. Those changes made me feel somewhat distant to the place at first, but the longer I stayed, the more I felt part of it with appreciation of the old and the new. One summer, I took my kids and my husband to the river where I used to play as a child. While watching them play and catch minnows and crawfish in the river, I was overtaken by a sense of nostalgia because everything around the river had changed so much. Then, another emotion took over: a sense of awe and wonder watching the same scenes from my childhood being reenacted by my kids in the same place decades later. I was happy the old river was still flowing, despite all the changes, and that prompted me to think of other constants in my hometown that kept me coming back: my parents and their steadfast presence and love.

Illustration Credit: Jaime Kim | Candlewick Press

Imagine you’re booktalking Mommy’s Hometown to elementary school librarians. What do you share with them?

Hope Lim: Mommy’s Hometown is about a mother/child connection that transcends time and place; a connection that is rooted in love and sharing. When a child visits his mother’s hometown, everything there is different from what he imagines from her stories. After spending some time with his mother, however, he eventually feels connected to the place and finds the beauty in what remains in a city where the old and the new come together. He learns that even stores with old, worn-out signs are essential to people in a meaningful way. The last scene is a tribute to Grandma’s love and presence, something unstated, but running in the background of the story like an old river. Mommy’s Hometown is about love that connects families through generations.

Illustration Credit: Jaime Kim | Candlewick Press

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Jaime Kim’s illustrations is like a time machine that puts me right back to the Korea of ​​my youth, my hometown, and the childhood that exists in my memories. Her stunning illustrations brought my story to life with vivid colors, striking expressions of light and wonderful, fun details. I am amazed by how her illustrations are based on my story, but they stand on their own. I feel like I am seeing her own story unfold, while each page evokes all the memories I shared in the story. Her artistic choices are thoughtful, brilliant, and child friendly. Jamie’s depictions of scenes in Korea are so true to life and fun, for the city itself is always bustling with people and action.

Story is sharing and connecting

John Schu, you should have asked me.. what is my favorite scene in the story. It is the scene where the child relives his mother’s childhood through his imagination. The boy finally understands his mother and her hometown, and at that moment, he fulfills his wish to see what her hometown was like in the past. Whenever I see the scene, I remember one particular moment from my childhood where I played until dusk and on my way home found the sky burning bright red. Even as a child, I stood there for a long time watching the sky before rushing home at my mom’s calling.

Thank you, Hope! Congratulations!

Hope Lim is the author of I Am a Birdillustrated by Hyewon Yum, and My Tree, illustrated by Il Sung Na. Born and raised in South Korea, Hope Lim now lives with her family in San Francisco.

Jaime Kim was born and raised in Korea before moving to the United States at the age of eighteen. She is the author-illustrator of Ready for the Spotlight! and the illustrator of many books for young readers, including La La La: A Story of Hope by Kate DiCamillo. Jaime Kim lives in North Carolina.

Look for Mommy’s Hometown on April 12, 2022. Pre-order a copy HERE.

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