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Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Chris Soentpiet

Gr K and up/Ages 5+
32 pages/picture book
11"X 10"

ISBN # 0-395-93872-4
$16.00 US
$23.00 CAN

Clarion Books imprint of:
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
(800) 225-3362

David likes his family the way it has always been, just him and Mom and Dad. He never wanted to be a big brother. And he certainly never invited Jin Woo, the little baby from Korea, to become a part of the family. Now Jin Woo is getting all the attention, and David feels as if no one cares about him anymore. But then a surprising letter helps him to understand that being a brother can mean being surrounded with more love than ever.

I was honored when Eve Bunting chose me illustrate this story. Adoption has a special place in my heart as I was adopted just like JIN WOO. -Chris Soentpiet

Eve Bunting has received many awards, including the Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in 1976 for One More Flight (Warne). In 1995 the Caldecott Medal was presented to David Diaz for his illustrations for her Smoky Night (Harcourt). Ms. Bunting has taught several writing classes, including one at the University of California, Los Angeles. She lives with her husband in Pasadena, California.

Eve Bunting and Chris Soentpiet bring the same deep emotion that distinguished their previous collaboration, SO FAR FROM THE SEA, to this moving story about an adoptive family that has love to spare.


Among the prolific Bunting's many talents in a propensity for distilling complex social issues into accessible picture books that begin to make subjects such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, adult illiteracy, and homelessness more understandable to younger children. This picture-book exploration of the arrival of an adopted Korean baby named Jin Woo is the second collaboration by Bunting and Soentpiet, and as a Korean adoptee himself, the talented Soentpiet is particularly well qualified to illustrate this one. Jin Woo's story is told in the present tense from the viewpoint of the baby's older brother, a six or seven-year old named David, who is also adopted. He is alternately sad, hopeful, unbelieving, and excited at this change in his life, which is an accurate portrayal of the whirlwind of feelings that surround any new big brother. David's parents are understandably thrilled, with their joyous emotions captured in both Bunting's text and in Soentpiet's detailed, realistic paintings. His large-format illustrations are the book's main strength, surpassing Bunting's serviceable story, which is not as compelling as some of her other picture book texts. There are some wonderful recent books on inter-country adoption (notably Rose A. Lewis's I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, 2000), but very few that focus on the mixed feelings of older siblings. This will find a ready audience with many adoptive families, especially those preparing to adopt babies.

Jin Woo is the baby that's coming from Korea to be adopted by David's family, but David's not sure how he feels about having a little brother. The night before Jin Woo's arrival, the family goes to a Korean restaurant. The next day, they pick up the baby at the airport, where David gets to hold the chubby, happy child. When his mother reads him a comforting letter "written" by Jin Woo, David feels things will work out after all. The story's climax comes when David decides to give his brother the duck mobile that spins over his bed. The art is the high point of this solid piece of bibliotherapy. It has photographic clarity that makes these characters real enough to touch, and adorable Jin Woo looks eminently huggable. A solid choice for adoption shelves, especially for those looking for material on international adoption.

(this guide was adapted by the North Carolina Children's Book Award Committee)

JIN WOO can be used to introduce your students to the Korean- Americans, adoption, sibling rivalry.

Pre-reading: Show the students the cover of the book, read the title, author and illustrators name. Ask them what they think the book will be about. Next show the illustration of the kitchen scene with David looking down and unhappy -- now what do they think the book will be about. Have the students look at a globe or world map to locate Korea.

Reading: As you read and show the illustrations have the students look closely at the drawings. What details can they find in the pictures? Have them look closely at the expressions on the faces of the characters -- how do they change throughout the story. Ask the students how they think the characters are feeling. Can they tell by the illustrations?

Interview: If possible talk with a Korean-American, an adoptee (or relative of the adoptee) -then write their story. Talk with someone who was adopted. Ask a parent, a grandparent or a friend.

Language Arts/Communication Skills:

  • Have students imagine that David is a little older and able to write and express his thoughts. Have them write some journal/diary entries as if they were expressing his feelings before the baby comes, during his time at the airport, and after a few years.

Social Studies/Community Involvement:

  • November is National Adoption Month. Plan a story time focused on adoption. Read other books on adoption such as I love you like Crazy Cakes. Invite speakers form your community (include parents, students, faculty members, community agencies) to speak to the PTA or your classes highlighting the adoption process. Visit for further information on National Adoption Month.
  • Locate Korea on a globe or map. Discuss ways to travel to and from Korea. What will they bring with them? Calculate how many miles the baby traveled to come to the USA.
  • Research Korean customs as mentioned in the story. Share orally.


  • Listen to traditional Korean music.
  • Compare Soentpiet's style of illustration to Norman Rockwell.
  • The Korean traditional dress like the honbok is worn when the baby turns one year old. Make a life-size paper doll. Have students making tracings of the honbok. Now have the students color it with crayons, watercolors, acrylic or decorate their honbok with scraps of paper, fabric, yarn, and other craft items.

Science: The family dines at a Korean restaurant. What type of Korean food might the family require to meet the food pyramid requirement? Hint you should get a menu from a Korean restaurant to help you. Use the internet to find a Korean restaurant menu.

Farms and farming -- where does the Korean food come from? What is a rice paddy? Try growing plants in a variety of ways -- soil, hydroponics etc. keep a journal of their growth.

Social Studies: Jin Woo immigrated to the United States to be with his new family. Talk about immigration -- are there any immigrants in the class -- list the countries of each student's ancestry.

Make a guidebook to Korea -- cover topics like cities, geographical features, customs, traditions, folklore, early history, food, games, traditional dress like the honbok.

Literature: Read another book about Korea, adoption or sibling rivalry. Suggested reading: PEACEBOUND TRAINS by Haemi Balgassi, GOOD AS GOLDIE by Margie Palatini, I LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY CAKES by Rose A. Lewis, OVER THE MOON by Karen Katz, "A" IS FOR ADOPTED by Eileen Tucker Cosby. Look for other books by Eve Bunting and Chris Soentpiet. If you really enjoyed JIN WOO write a review and post it on-line at or so others can enjoy your reading experience.

Bulletin Board - David generously gave away his precious ducks which he loved so much to Jin Woo. Bring a baby mobile or some rubber ducks to symbolize David's kind gesture. Ask each student, what personal items they would give away if they were expecting a little baby into their family. List them.

paper duck inspired by "Jin Woo"


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