“Mediocre storytelling undermines praiseworthy illustrations in this novel book created as a Korean folktale.”
Soe-In is a small child in a Korean village that emphasizes size and strength, but she is remarkably resourceful when it comes to keeping up with others. Where others use brawn to haul loads of water or grain, she builds a raft to float the grain down the river and leads the cow along with a carrot. When a smoky shadow settles over her valley village, she volunteers to explore what has become of the sun. Her journey brings her face to face with the mythical spirit tiger that guards the surrounding mountains. Bravely facing the tiger, who is burning with flames, she learns that in his ambition he has swallowed the sun. Resourceful Soe-In sets about to help the spirit tiger, and despite several failed attempts, eventually frees the sun from the belly of the apex spirit. She is returned in glory and honor to her village by the spirit tiger, where she becomes “known as the greatest of them all.” Cha shares the story in the style of a Korean folktale, and while the story could be more forcefully and engagedly told, Cha’s illustrations are fearless, bold, and powerful, fitting of a quest based in ancient Korean symbolism.
Soe-in is a tiny child in a village full of large people. She struggles with completing chores due to her size, but she never gives up. One day, when the sky grows dark and full of smoke, Soe-in volunteers to travel into the tall mountains to investigate. She’s surprised to find a spirit tiger there and learn he has swallowed the sun by mistake! To help the spirit tiger and her village, Soe-in must come up with a clever idea to solve this gigantic problem. And while she’s at it, she just may prove that the smallest people often have the biggest, bravest hearts.
Hanna Cha is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. She spent her childhood in both Korea and America, and currently lives in Boston where she loves crinkling her nose in the early morning breeze and snuggling her tiger-like cat, Hobac. Tiny Feet Between the Mountains is her first book. Visit her online at HannaCha.com.