Grandpa Across the Ocean

Grandpa Across the Ocean
Hyewon Yum
Abrams

When a little boy travels with his mum, across the ocean to Korea, to visit his Grandpa, he is bemused by what he finds – strange smells, sights and sounds, even the way his Grandpa greets him seem strange.

The food isn’t to the lad’s liking, he can’t understand what Grandpa says and he spends much of his time sleeping in his chair in front of the TV; in short everything is boring. It’s his feelings of frustration that lead the small boy narrator to grab at the only toy available – his own ball – and because he starts kicking it indoors, very soon disaster happens.

Surprisingly for the boy, Grandpa isn’t angry, rather he shows concerned care towards him, probably feeling more than a tad guilty himself. Before you can say ‘smashed orchid pot’ the two are playing and watching TV together, before heading out to the market for a new plant pot and the introduction of some Korean words.

The rest of the visit is filled with a sense of connectivity as a seemingly indefatigable grandfather and grandson play at the beach every day …

and when it’s time to go home, the boy feels sad and is eagerly anticipating a return visit the following summer.

Hyewon Yum’s coloured pencil illustrations exude warmth and the mutual love that grows between the old man and his grandson over the weeks; a love that will remain strong across time and distance.