Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Legend of Hong Kil Dong by Anne Sibley O'Brien

Have you ever heard of a Korean Robin Hood? This legend tells the story of a young man who cannot be accepted into society in his proper position because he is an illegitimate child. The subtitle of the book is: The Robin Hood of Korea.

This is a graphic novel I received from Charlesbridge Publishers to review. The illustrations are bright,colorful and nicely display the type of clothing worn in Chosun Dynasty. The pages at the front and back of the book are a facsimile reproduction of an archaic Korean woodblock edition, and a very nice touch.

Hong Kil Dong is smart, athletic, and sensible, but has no place in the minister's household because he's the son of a maid. He wants his father to acknowledge him, but he cannot because he has a legitimate son. Then someone in the household hires an assassin, and he knows he must leave.

He meets other desperate men in the mountains and as he listens to their stories, he realizes he has found a new purpose in life: To right the wrongs they have suffered.

This adventure story was the first novel written in the Korean language. Ms. O'Brien did a lot of research to ensure she got to know the character and could show his nature and his concerns in her English version of the novel.

This book is an excellent way to show your child how many legends are similar across various countries. It's for ages 9+ and is currently available in your local bookstore. For those of you with reluctant readers, this one should keep them reading.

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