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The Picture Book Buzz

Mommy's Hometown - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

The winner of their choice of either a signed book or a picture book critique by editor/author Helen H. Wu is ....

Katie McEnamey

I'm so excited to be able to feature this book for #PPBF. As one of Hope's CP's, I got to see this sweet story grow and change. But it always had the central heart of family and the meaning of "home." This is a wonderful book about sharing a parent's childhood memories and home.

Mommy's Hometown

Author: Hope Lim

Illustrator: Jaime Kim

Publisher: Candlewick (2022)

Ages: 3-7



Immigration, childhood memories, grandparents, family, and changes.


When a young boy and his mother travel overseas to her childhood home in Korea, the town is not as he imagined. Will he be able to see it the way Mommy does?

This gentle, contemplative picture book about family origins invites us to ponder the meaning of home. A young boy loves listening to his mother describe the place where she grew up, a world of tall mountains and friends splashing together in the river. Mommy’s stories have let the boy visit her homeland in his thoughts and dreams, and now he’s old enough to travel with her to see it for himself. But when mother and son arrive, the town is not as he imagined. Skyscrapers block the mountains, and crowds hurry past. The boy feels like an outsider—until they visit the river where his mother used to play, and he sees that the spirit and happiness of those days remain. Sensitively pitched to a child’s-eye view, this vivid story honors the immigrant experience and the timeless bond between parent and child, past and present.

Opening Lines:

At night, Mommy would tell me

about where she grew up.

She said an old river weaved through her village

like a long thread.

It sparkled in the morning and shimmered at dusk.

What I LOVED About This Book:

With a wonderful child's voice and succinct text, Hope Lim captures the boy's imagination as he listens to Mommy's descriptions of her hometown town and her adventures with friends when she was little. I love Jaime Kim's gorgeous digital illustrations, especially of the sparkling and shimmering river.

Text © Hope Lim 2022. Image © Jaime Kim, 2022.

Which even though "tamed" and straightened as the city grew, it remained a central part...still sparkling and shimmering with similar tones.

Text © Hope Lim 2022. Image © Jaime Kim, 2022.

While this definitely speaks to the immigrant experience of returning to a hometown or country, it also speaks to anyone whose moved away from a beloved home or town. Although I moved a lot, I have fond memories of the house where I spent 6th grade. It was both nostalgic and heartbreaking to go by the house and realize how many things had changed. And yet, how some special things stayed the same.

When the boy and his mom arrive to visit grandma, very little remains of Mommy's village. A once grand house, sits old and rickety, surrounded by shiny big buildings. The mountains that "stood like giants" are replaced with tall apartment buildings. A sky full of billowy clouds is now grey. And the dirt road to the river is now concrete walkways. Trying hard to reconcile mommy's girlhood village with city in front of him, he wishes he "could see what it was like back then."

With wonderful symmetry in the text and images, Hope and Jaime show that even though "some things change...some things stay the same." As the two of them wade into the river & explore ...

Text © Hope Lim 2022. Image © Jaime Kim, 2022.

the reader is reminded of Mommy's stories of playing in the river as a child.

Text © Hope Lim 2022. Image © Jaime Kim, 2022.

I love that in addition to Mommy's clothes mirroring each other in these spreads and Jaime's use of similar spot images on white backgrounds, in both illustrations they watch fish, "unearth treasures," and then dry off on the bank. Giving the boy a taste of what it had been like. The ending is wonderful and brings together his desire to see Mommy's hometown and her memories through the magic of his imagination and a glowing red sky. The last few illustrations are ingenious and highlight the most important thing that makes it "home." This is a loving ode to childhood memories, family time, and the acceptance of change.


- what are some things you enjoy doing with your family? Check out these ideas.

- find an old picture of your house or town. List, or draw, the differences and similarities.

- where did your parent or grandparent grow up? What was their town like then? How about now? Can you imagine them as young kids in their town? Draw a picture or write a story about their memory.

- what changes have you seen in the town you live in? Has it gotten bigger? Emptier? Stayed the same? What is your favorite memory so far?

If you missed the interview of Hope Lim and Jaime Kim Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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