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Behind the Mask Hardcover – October 3, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374305226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374305222
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 8.9 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,672,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2–When his friends ask him what he will be for Halloween, Korean-American Kimin tells them that he will be his grandfather. The children don't think that it will be very exciting to dress as an old man, but the boy knows better. Before he died, his grandfather had been a famous mask dancer in Korea, and Kimin has two boxes of costumes, photos, and memorabilia from his career. He picks a mask that had scared him years before when he had visited his grandfather and shows his friends some dance moves as they go trick-or-treating. The children go to his house and all end up dancing and looking at the beautiful masks. The illustrations in muted fall colors enhance the story beautifully, and include endpapers with the stylized masks depicted. This is an evocative look at a Korean tradition and an interesting intergenerational and multicultural story for Halloween.–Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A Korean American boy finds a unique way to celebrate Halloween in this original picture book. After his grandfather's death, Kimin misses him and feels a little afraid of the chests containing photos of his grandfather performing a traditional Korean mask dance as well as the clothes and frightening masks that he wore. Halloween approaches. When Kimin tells the other children that he will go as his grandpa, they laugh and joke about his choice. But when he dons the mask and robe on Halloween night, his costume and dance earn their respect. As Choi notes, Halloween is not just a time for scary costumes and candy, but also a time for honoring the dead. Ultimately, Kimin's unusual choice brings him closer to his grandfather. Quiet and well crafted, the story manages some subtle emotional shifts as well as the smooth weaving of one tradition into another. The author's note fills in more background about the mask dance. An interesting fusion of cultures in a story appealing to children. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Yangsook Choi grew up in Korea and moved to New York City to study art. She was selected as one of the most prominent new children's book artists by Publishers Weekly. She has written and illustrated many children's books. Her books have received several awards, including the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award.
She currently resides in New York City.

When she is not creating, she loves to meet and play with children in her community and around the world.
The local children in a shelter, the mountain children in the Himalayas, the Bedouin children in the Arabian desert, the orphans in flooded Cambodia, and the North Korean defector children are among her greatest teachers.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Around early October, children's booksellers and librarians perform synchronized shudders as an influx of bad Halloween titles swamp bookshelves everywhere. You can't get away from them. Will the parents walk off with the repugnant tale of a little witch who just wants to be loved or something ironically sacchrine involving a boy who learns to share his candy? Whatever the case, the sheer piles of Halloween-inspired dreck is heady. With that in mind, a book like Yangsook Choi's, "Behind the Mask" comes across as a breath of fresh air in the midst of all this garbage. Choi tells a measured tale of a boy's wish to have the best and scariest costume for Halloween and throws in a good measure of Korean history and culture along the way. Consider this book the antidote to all the colorful horrible Halloween books that end up clogging the kiddies' brains.

Kimin has a problem. A Halloween problem. He has no idea what to dress up as this year, and his mom isn't being much help. All she's done is suggest that he look through his grandfather's old belongings stuffed away in two heavy boxes. Kimin is aware that his grandfather was once a famous dancer in Korea, but he's just uncovered a hitherto buried memory from when he was younger. When he was very little, Kimin spied on his grandfather late one night, only to find that the beloved relative had transformed his own face into something horrific. Now, going through the old boxes, Kimin discovers a scary mask that is EXACTLY the face the boy thought he saw that night. Now everything is clear for Kimin, and better still, he's found his new costume. His choice of disguise comes off as a hit with the other kids, but when Kimin accidentally bruises his family's priceless family heirloom it's his mother he'll have to explain everything to in the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda Kissling on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Kimin, a Korean-American boy, finally decides to dress as his grandfather for Halloween. But this is more than a mere Halloween story. It is a touching look at how the American Kimin finds a connection with his Korean grandfather, as well as the remarkable role the grandparent held in their cultural ancestry. He had been a mask dancer, the significance of which the author's note briefly explains. Beautifully painted replicas of masks and glimpses of clothing and decor carry the feel of Korea though the book.

An exquisitely executed book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Yangsook Choi's BEHIND THE MASK tells of a different kind of Halloween in which Kimin says he's going as his grandfather - not a fun prospect to the other kids. But Kimin is Korean and his father was a Korean mask dancer, holding some surprises for his grandchild's choice. Kids in grades 2-3 will find it a revealing, unusual take on Halloween fun.
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