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The Color of Earth Paperback – Deckle Edge, March 31, 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Color Trilogy Series

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Paperback, Deckle Edge, March 31, 2009
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Series: The Color of Earth (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; First American Edition edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596434589
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596434585
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Bunche on April 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've been a lifelong fan of comics from around the world and I have to say that this Korean effort is outstanding in all aspects. The first in a trilogy, this tender look a a rural girl's growing to maturity in direct parallel to the lonely existence of her mother who was widowed early unfolds at a leisurely pace, evoking the important time in a person's youth that all too soon gives way to the concerns of adulthood. The young protagonist, Ehwa, experiences the confusion of first love and the maturation of her body from child to young woman, and every page is sweetly compelling. Author Kim is to be commended for this work, which features gorgeous and lyrical illustrations and the most "human" of scripts to tell its story, and it's the script's characterization of its female characters that truly amazed me because I can't remember the last time I read female characters written by a man that seemed totally believable and identifiably realistic.

Simply put, THE COLOR OF EARTH can be heartily enjoyed by both female and male readers and it's one hell of a lot better than the vast majority of what's to be had from the glutted manga/manhwa market. This is the first in a trilogy and I can't wait for the next segment. Believe me, I've read a lot of crap, and this in no way qualifies as such. A 10 out of 10.
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Format: Paperback
This wonderful book captivated me from the very first page. How lovingly drawn it was- with the young female protagonist Ehwa sitting among butterflies, gazing at the young monk. The detail in the butterflies and the trees is mesmerizing. The first page alone is a microcosm of the great work that "The Color of Earth" is. The entire work is deceptively simple, wonderfully drawn and full of emotion. The story is about young Ehwa's sexual awakening; like all great works of art, there are other layers of meaning as well. The writer explores the roles of men and women in traditional Korean (broader Asian, even global) cultures. He deals with the idea of loss, and the strong feelings of first love. At it's emotional apex he deals with unrequited love.

"The Color of Earth" soars because it accomplishes what so few works can - it appeals equally to adults and children alike. Seeing how Ehwa's mother deals with her questions and awakening in such a tender way, I can't help but admire her and wonder how she has her strength and wisdom. I look forward to the day when my own daughter is old enough to enjoy this work- most parents may want to wait until their child is in their early teens due to the content.
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Format: Paperback
The Color of Earth is the first in a trilogy of graphic novels about a young girl named Ehwa and her widowed mother who owns a tavern in a small Korean village. The story takes place in a time before that country was geographically split by war.

Author Kim Dong Hwa creates beautiful images that work with the narrative to tell this story of two generations of women. While the story may seem simple as it follows Ehwa from young girl to young adult, it is filled with rich symbolism that you will want to savor as you read. Flowers symbolize many things in the story, and the characters are often associating flowers with someone they love. Also, you get the sense that young Ehwa is beginning to bloom just as the flowers do.

As Ehwa grows, she is confused by the changes in her body, and the information she gets from friends about those changes only confuses her more. Mother and daughter don't talk about the changes before they occur, but Ehwa does turn to her mother to answer the questions she has. The narrative provides an interesting way to bring up topics like boys having wet dreams and girls starting their periods. The words are simple, but combined with the images they are powerful. While this book is targeted to a young adult audience and these concepts won't be new to most readers, it can be a jumping off point for further discussion.

I recommend The Color of Earth for mother-daughter book clubs with girls who are 13 or older. In addition to talking about maturing bodies, other points to discuss include first love, Buddhist monks, and life in a small village.
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Format: Paperback
Although Dong Hwa Kim's protagonist in The Color of Earth, the first book of a nostalgic Korean manhwa trilogy,is a sweet-faced young girl, it's emphatically not for children. Behind the timeless provincialism of its rural Korean setting and the subtly allusive illustrations is a Freudian-laced tale of a young woman's coming of age and sexual awakening. So while the chapter about Ehwa's first menstruation is a common theme in children's literature, her discovery that all women have a secret "persimmon" between their legs might make even some adult readers vaguely uncomfortable.

Oddly, a short essay at the end of the volume calls this work "feminist." Alas, the essayist seems to have an impoverished notion of the word. A female protagonist alone does not make it feminist, and it seems doubtful that anyone in the West would consider, for example, a beautiful widowed mother and proprietress of a tavern who just smiles like a benevolent angel whenever her regulars make vulgar, sexist remarks about her a particularly liberating turn.

Fortunately, none of it is to be taken literally. Make no mistake: The Color of Earth is a folktale in sequential art form, resonating with the cross-cultural power of myth. This explains why Ehwa's maturation is so stereotyped, her romantic (but platonic) relationships with the young monk and later on with the rich kid seems so stilted and ritualistic. The painter's courtship of her mother is even more ritualized still, the strengthening bonds between them symbolized by the growing number of paintbrushes he leaves behind to be hung up with pride of place on Ehwa and her mother's wall. The characters are more archetypes than three-dimensional constructions and meant to be so.

This deliberate flatness goes for Kim's artwork as well.
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