Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts

Book Review: Sora and the Cloud

Disclosure: I was sent this book digitally to review free of charge from Immedium. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. I am including links to each item for your convenience but do not receive anything if you purchase them.

Today we got almost a foot of snow. With all the cold, beautiful snow outside, I thought it was the perfect time to review this wonderful book by Felicia Hoshino called Sora and the Cloud. It is one of those wonderfully dreamy books that can never happen, but it is always so fun to think about happening.

This story is about a young Japanese boy exploring his world. Sora is a climber and one day he climbs a tree. Waiting in the branches of the tree is a friendly cloud. Sora hops on and the two become friends as they have an adventure. Throughout the story there are Japanese references such as food booths in a festival, kite flying and lyrics to a children's song about kites. The story has been translated into Japanese and both text are written on each page. After Sora returns to his family, his sister starts to check out the friendly cloud. It is an imaginative story about young children exploring and discovering the world around them. 

Felicia Hoshino has illustrated many books and finally she writes and illustrates her own. It is beautifully illustrated and is the kind of book you can imagine a child daydreaming about. Add the Japanese culture throughout the book, and it is a wonderful introduction for any child. The book makes me smile. The story is simple yet fantasy and it makes it that wonderful mix that makes you happy to read.

The book is available for $15.95 at Immedium. It is a wonderful addition to anyone's multicultural library!

For some more multicultural children book reviews check out:

Lunar New Year and Year of the Horse Book Review

Disclosure: I was sent these books digitally to review free of charge from Immedium. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. I am including links to each item for your convenience but do not receive anything if you purchase them.

Although we celebrate our New Year on January 1st, there are many places around the world that celebrate the new year at a different time (and some celebrate it at two times January 1st and a cultural traditional time). Friday, January 31st is the lunar new year. Now some cultures that celebrate the lunar new year are the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Mongolian. The Chinese are the largest group that celebrate it and is the one we hear about most often.

 Now China is the largest celebrated lunar new year. Traditionally the celebration of the lunar new year lasted fifteen days. Now in modern times it is usually two or three days. The days leading up to the new year are important in China. The Chinese clean their houses from top to bottom prior to the new year and never on New Year's Day in fear that good fortune will be swept away. They pay off their debts, buy new clothes and shoes to wear on the first day of the year (it is considered lucky to wear all new clothing on the first day of the year since wearing old clothes brings bad luck in the year to come) and have their hair cut. As the old year ends people focus on their mistakes and failures and think about how to act better in the new year. Oranges and tangerines are traditional gifts for friends and family. They are also a favorite offering to the ancestors. Tangerines still have their leaves attached to make sure the family ties remain secure. For food, a chicken is served to ensure prosperity, a Tray of Togetherness (circular or octagonal candy tray) serves sweets each symbolizing happiness, long life, good health and other good wishes.

 The Shēngxiào also known as the Chinese Zodiac relates an animal with each year in a twelve year cycle. The year ending tonight is the year of the snake. The new year is the year of the horse. There are different legends of how the animals were picked and the order they go were picked in. Each animal presents certain personality traits for the people born in those years as well as ways the year should go. People born in the year of the horse love to be in a crowd and extremely active and animated. They love to be the center of attention and can be impatient and hot-blooded. 

I was lucky enough to receive a digital copy of Oliver Chin's The Year of the Horse: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac from Immedium. This adorable story goes through the live a foal and a young boy, Tom. Tom and the foal, Hannah, become good friends. The young boy's teacher has been asked to send a painting for the governor. She needs someone to deliver it, but everyone is busy. Tom offers to do the job, but the teacher feels he needs someone to go with him. All of the horses in Hannah's family are too busy to help so Hannah volunteers. Hannah and Tom ride off to make the delivery. They come across some challenges: a snake, a tiger, and dark, chilly nights, but together they are able to get through/past all of them. Hannah jumps the snake and walks nimbly by the sleeping tiger. Together the pair spends the cold night in a cave with a fire. They make the delivery and the governor invites them to dinner. They see a few sights of the city, but want to get home. They enjoy the sights on the way home since they do not have an important job to accomplish anymore. When they arrive home, the teacher shares a copy of the painting. It is the Chinese word for horse and the teacher says it describes Hannah's valiant spirit. The two friends loved to play together and remained good companions.

For more on China check out DIY Fortune Cookies, Chinese Cinderella, Chinese New Year 2013, Chinese New Year Instruments,

Sources: World Book's Celebrations and Rituals Around the World New Year's Celebrations  and Wikipedia and China Highlights

In Korea the lunar new year is called Seol. Generally it falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. It is a family holiday with much respect for one's family and ancestors. The Korean house is usually cleaned and special foods are prepared. The house lights remain on throughout the night and the people stay up to greet New Year's Day or Seollal. On Seollal people dress in the best clothes and start their day with Chayre. Charye is the ritual to make the food offerings to their ancestors. An altar table is set carefully with special foods. The family's leader conducts the ritual while someone else reads the chuk mun, the list of ancestor's names. Then the children perform Sebae, when they formally greet their elders (parents and grandparents). The children receive money and cakes and then there are special breakfasts, visits with neighbors, games, fortune telling and dancing. A typical game is yut which involves four sticks being thrown into the air and telling a fortune from how they land. Everyone in Korea eats one bowl of ttokkuk, rice cake soup on New Year's Day and they count their age by the number of New Year's Days they have lived through or how many bowls of ttokkuk they have eaten.

For more information and stories from Korea check out our past posts: The Korean Cinderella, Chap ch'ae (Around the World in 12 Dishes), and Kongi and Potgi: A Korean Cinderella.

Sources: Wikipedia and World Book's Celebrations and Rituals Around the World New Year's Celebrations 


In Vietnam, the new year is called Tết. It is the most important celebration of the Vietnamese culture. People prepare for it by cleaning the house and preparing special foods. There are also many customs that go along with it like visiting friends and relatives and forgetting the bad of the past year. Similar to the Chinese, children receive red envelopes of money from their elders on New Year's Day. The first day of the new year is reserved for nuclear family. Since the Vietnamese think the first person to enter their house in the new year determines their fortune for the whole year, no one visits without an invitation. Sweeping during the holiday is taboo in fear of sleeping away good luck. The second day is usually reserved for friends and the third for teachers. They have some traditional food. One such food is Hạt Dưa or roasted watermelon seeds.

For more on Thailand check out The Golden Slipper post.

Sources: Wikipedia


Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian New Year, literally means white moon. It is one of the most important holidays in Mongolia. Around the new year families burn candles on the altar to symbolize Buddhist Enlightenment. Typically the family meets in the dwelling of the eldest member and dress in traditional Mongol costumes. When greeting their elders during Tsagaan Sar, Mongols perform a greeting ceremony called zolgokh. The eldest receives the greeting from each member except his spouse. After the greeting the family eats mutton, sheep's tail, dairy products, rice with curds, and buuz and exchange gifts. 

The day before Tsagaan Sar the Mongols completely clean their homes and herders clean their livestock barns to provide a complete fresh start for the new year. They also have a ceremony that includes burning candles on this day. 

Source: Wikipedia

So that is a bit about the lunar new year. What will you do to celebrate? We are planning on making some dumplings and having a Chinese inspired meal. We did make horse stick puppets. The pattern and idea came from Better Homes and Garden.

Finally, as promised here are some more ideas for learning about the Chinese New Year and crafts to do--these all came from last week's Sharing Saturday!

1) From Afterschool Learning for Smarty Pants: 8 Ways to Teach Your Kids about China

2) From In the Playroom: Chinese Crafts for Kids - Chinese Fans

3) From Gift of Curiosity: Chinese New Year Do-a-Dot Printables

If you are featured here, please feel free to grab a featured button. I hope you will join us for this week's Sharing Saturday!

Julie the Black Belt Series - Product Review

Today is the last day to enter my current giveaway!!

Disclosure: I was sent these books digitally to review free of charge from Immedium. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. I am including links to each item for your convenience but do not receive anything if you purchase them.

Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day!! Last week I reviewed Cathryn Falwell's Rainbow Stew as an official reviewer for the day. Now over at Pragmatic Mom and Jump Into a Book are the blog hop with all the books shared in one place and you can share your own review of a multicultural book. There are also some giveaways being held by a few of the sponsors!   Barefoot Books  is hosting a giveaway on their Facebook page.

After reading my Rainbow Stew post, Immedium contacted me to see if I would review a few of their multicultural books. I of course jumped at the chance. They sent me three Asian American books to review. I am going to review two of them for you today and the final on on Friday for the Chinese New Year. I hope you will join me on Friday for my other review. 

The books I am reviewing today are a series. The second book in the series, Julie Black Belt: The Belt of Fire by Oliver Chin was recently released. Since we had not read the first book in the series, Julie Black Belt: The Kung Fu Chronicles by Oliver Chin, they sent us that one as well.
Julie is a young Asian American who loves Brandy Wu, a kung fu master actress. Her parents ask her one day if she would like to learn kung fu and maybe earn a black belt like Brandy Wu. She decides to give it a try. Her younger brother, Johnny, also wants to try, but she says if he is good she will teach him after she learns. She tries on the uniform for class and thinks it needs a belt. At the class she is surprised when her teacher or Sifu (teacher in Chinese) as the students call him is a young man. At first she thinks all she is being taught is easy things but when she tries them she discovers they are much harder than she thought. At one point Julie is ready to give up and that is when Sifu whispers that a black belt is a white belt that doesn't give up. After that she is enthusiastic about kung fu and earns the yellow belt in the end. She knows she is on her way to a black belt.

The Belt of Fire picks up where the Kung Fu Chronicle leaves off. Julie goes to her first yellow belt kung fu class. Then as they are starting the doorbell rings and a student in a different color outfit but with a yellow belt enters. He is introduced as Brandon, who moved into the neighborhood. Julie becomes jealous because Brandon seems better than her. She tries to compete with him. Soon the two students are making mistakes left and right because they are too focused on each other than themselves. Sifu's teacher comes for a visit and she helps Julie and Brandon learn to work together and to focus on themselves instead of each other. It works and they are able to make a great team. 

What I love about both of these books is how it takes the girl to be the heroine in a typically male sport. I also love how it brings races (Brandon is white) together to have the same goal of bettering each person. The messages are so well woven into the stories. In the first book, Julie learns to not give up and keep trying even when it seems hard. In the second book, Julie and Brandon learn not to compare themselves to others, but to focus on oneself. The books themselves are written in an almost comic form, so it is a great way to expose younger children to comics and the upcoming graphic novels. I read the first book to Hazel this morning and she really liked it. She cannot wait to hear the second one. 

Both books are available for sale at Immedium's website. They are each $15.95 in hardcover. They are a wonderful way to introduce kung fu to young children as well as teach a few of the lessons from it.

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Thailand-- Banana Cake

Enter the Little Pim Giveaway!!
This month Around the World in 12 Dishes is stopping in Thailand!! We have had some fun with Thailand. A few weeks ago we shared a wonderful version of Cinderella from Thailand. Today we will share more stories, resources and food!! For a brief introduction to the country of Thailand, visit our Cinderella post.

Around the World in 12 Dishes is brought to you by the following blogs. Each month each of us picks a recipe from the selected country to make with your child(ren) and share it on our blogs. You can see the line-up here.
Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Babes in Deutschland, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Here Come The Girls, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids' Makings, The Educators' Spin On It and The Mommy Talks.

Hazel and I found many books with recipes from Thailand at the library as well as some multicultural books about food and schools. We looked through them and decided on a recipe for banana cake or kanom gluay. We found this recipe in The Cooking of Thailand by Matthew Locricchio. I adapted it to be gluten free. I also made a Thai dinner, but Hazel did not help with that food since she was tired from school, so we will only be sharing the recipe for the cake.

Banana Cake or Kanom Gluay Recipe adapted from The Cooking of Thailand by Matthew Locricchio. Now the fact that it had rice in it intrigued me and I found some jasmine rice from Thailand to use!

2 1/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 cups cold water
5 ripe bananas
1/4 cup cold cooked white jasmine or basmati rice
3/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut cream (take thick top layer off when open can without shaking or stirring)
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

The first step is to soak the shredded coconut in the cold water for 10 minutes. Then drain in it in a strainer and push the back of a spoon to get more water out. Then set aside 1/4 cup of it to use on the top of the cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and slice the bananas and then add them to a large bowl with the coconut, rice and coconut cream. Using a potato masher, mash these together until well mixed. Set aside.

Break eggs and add sugar to the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer for two minutes.

In separate bowl mix flour and xanthan gum.

Add about 1/3 of the egg mixture to the banana mixture along with 1/3 of the flour mixture. Use electric mixer to mix together. Then add another 1/3 of each and mix. Then put final 1/3 of each in and mix.

Turn mixer off and add coconut milk. Use a rubber spatula to blend it into the batter.

The recipe called for a 10-inch cake pan to be lightly greased and floured. I found it filled 2 9-inch round pans. I used a baking spray instead of butter and flour. Once pan is prepared pour batter into it. Put in oven and bake for 60 to 65 minutes. The cake should be lightly brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then turn out onto the racks. Sprinkle with the coconut you set aside and the confectioners' sugar. Let cool to room temperature before eating!!

All three of us liked the banana cake! Hazel and I tried it warm and found it was too hot and one of them fell apart coming out of the pan too early. I added time to the cooling here to help with this problem. It tasted much better after it was cool.
After making the cake, I made some chicken satay with a peanut sauce and stir fired vegetables (recipe from Sue Townsend's Thailand book). The satay recipe I combined several different ones that I found in the books above. Steve really liked the chicken, Hazel did not like it and I thought it was all right. Being the only one to have tasted satay before, I didn't like it in comparison to what I have had at a Thai restaurant. However we all liked the stir fried vegetables even though it did not really have a sauce on it. The lemon grass and ginger in it was  delicious. Now I went to four grocery stores to find lemon grass, but finally did. We also had sticky rice from Thai with our meal. I also found Thai fortune cookies, which we all liked as well.

We also explored some great books. One of our favorites was Peek!: a Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho. It is a simple story of a father looking for his daughter who is playing hide-and-seek and he keeps finding the various animals of Thailand instead. The Life of Rice and The Story of Silk by Richard Sobol are two amazing books. Richard Sobol is a photographer. He traveled in Thailand for work and discovered the importance of rice to the people there. He went and told the rice farmers story. When he was back during non-rice farming season, he asked what the people in the village were doing and discovered the silk making. These books are about the life of average people in Thailand's small villages and country.

That is what we have explored in Thailand. Now it is your turn. Have you tried cooking a Thai recipe and want to share it here. I hope you will!! And in case you missed it, here are the pages for Thailand passport and placemat!

Flamingo Friday: Greater Flamingos

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Phoenicopterus roseus -Bhigwan, Maharashtra, India -four-8
Source: By Yogendra Joshi 
(March baby MarchUploaded by Snowmanradio)
 [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Today I thought we would take a look at the largest species of flamingos, the greater flamingo. The greater flamingos can be found in Africa, Southern Europe and Southern Asia. The picture above is of four greater flamingos in India.

Source: By Jmalik at en.wikipedia 
[GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

Greater flamingos range from 43 to 60 inches in height and weigh between 4.4 to 8.8 pounds. The greater flamingo has pinkish-white plumage with red wing coverts and black secondary flight feathers. There bills are pink with a black tip and their legs are completely pink. The remain the whitish-grey until several years into their adult life when they gain their pink coloring.

Flamants roses à l'envol
Source: By aschaf ( 
[CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The lifespan of a greater flamingo in captivity is said to be 60 years, however the oldest is around 80 years and is in Adelaide Zoo in Australia. Like most flamingos their greatest threat is man. Ancient Romans considered flamingo tongue a delicacy. And occasionally flamingos in the Rann of Kutch salt marsh in Pakistan and India get electrocuted when they sit on electric cables near their breeding grounds. (Source)

So that is a little about the greater flamingo. If you missed the other species we have shared: Chilean and Caribbean and Andean flamingos. We still need to discuss the lesser flamingos and James flamingos.  I hope you will join us for Sharing Saturday this weekend!

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: A Cinderella Tale from Thailand

For this week's fairy tale in a different culture we are sharing a Cinderella tale from Thailand. We are exploring Thailand with Around the World in 12 Dishes this month and I happened across this Cinderella tale when I was looking at books from the library that came up with the key word Thailand. The book is Kao and the Golden Fish: A Folktale from Thailand As Remembered by Wilai Punpattanakul-Crouch retold by Cheryl Hamada and illustrated by Monica Liu. Now one thing I loved about this book are the beautiful pictures. The story is wordless, however at the end of the book the story is written in words. The first time through the book, we just looked at the pictures trying to figure out what was happening and then found the story. The second time through I was able to tell the story as we looked at the pictures. I was very happy to discover it was a Cinderella tale. Before we get into the tale, a little about Thailand.
Thailand is officially the Kingdom of Thailand and was formerly known as Siam. It is in Southeast Asia. It is a constitutional monarchy with King Rama IX reigning since 1946. He is the longest serving head of state and the longest reigning monarch in Thailand history. The capital city is Bangkok and it is the largest city in Thailand. 

Thailand is considered an emerging economy and a newly industrialize country. It offers free public education through age 17. Teaching is done mostly by rote memorization. Thailand exports rice, textiles and footwear, rubber, cars, computers and more. Thailand exports the most rice in the world. Rice is the most important crop there. (Source)

Now onto our story. Kao is a young Thai girl who lives happily with her parents until her mother dies. Her father remarries a woman who also has a daughter. The stepmother and stepsister make Kao do all the housework. One day after Kao's father has died while bathing in the pond a golden fish comes up to Kao and talks to her saying it is her mother. Kao spends more time bathing and comes back happy and her stepmother gets curious as to the cause. She sends her own daughter to spy on Kao the next day. She sees Kao talking to the fish. Then the stepmother has the stepsister go down and trick the fish and capture it. They cook it and eat it. Kao is so upset. She buries the fishbones and waters where she buries them in hope her mother will come back. Soon an eggplant plant grows there. Kao talks to the plant on her way back from bathing in the pond each day. Her stepmother is jealous of Kao's happiness and sends her daughter to dig up the plant. They eat and burn the plant, but Kao finds some seeds. She takes the seeds away from the house near the road and plants them there. When she can she goes and waters them. They grow into two beautiful trees. Kao hears her mother's voice when the wind blows them. Many people rest under the trees. One day a prince stops and rests there. He loves the noise of the wind blowing in them and orders his servants to dig them up and bring them back to his palace. The servants try and try and even use an elephant to try, but the trees will not be moved. The prince posts signs and asks the owner of the trees to come to his palace. Kao sees the sign and goes. The prince asks her to give him the trees. She tells him she will give him an answer the next day. She goes and asks the trees/mother what to do. They decide to make the prince happy. The mother asks Kao to bring the prince to the trees and she does. Then they get married and live happily with the trees in the courtyard of their palace. 

This story reminded me a bit of the Chinese version where the lead character befriends a fish and uses the fishbones for magic after the stepmother kills the fish. Again what I really loved about this book were the pictures and the wordless pictures. If you read this book, read the story ahead of time so you can tell the story with the pictures. It is a wonderful introduction to life in Thailand.

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: The Korean Cinderella

Last week we shared Kongi and Potgi by Oki S. Han. This week I am going to share The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo. It is very similar to Kongi and Potgi, but has a few differences. Since we explored a bit about Korea last week (both in the fairy tale post and our Around the World in 12 Dishes post), we will go right into the story.

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Korea Chap ch'ae

Have you entered my current giveaway? It ends Tuesday!!

Around the World in 12 Dishes is traveling to Korea this month. On Sunday we shared a Korean Cinderella tale called Kongi and Potgi. Today we are going to share our experience trying some Korean recipes and music and stories. We also did a few easy Korean crafts.
Coloring Page from RainbowKids

The dish we spent the most time making together was Chap ch'ae or Mixed Vegetables with Cellophane Noodles.  We found the recipe in Cooking the Korean Way by Okwha Chung and Judy Monroe. We compared recipes in a few books. We all loved this meal.

Chap ch'ae (adapted from Cooking the Korean Way)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 boneless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
1 package of cellophane noodles
6 tablespoons oil (unless you have the pan I have)
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup baby spinach, washed
5 teaspoons sesame oil
(Note: we took out the black mushrooms and water for them and the bean sprouts)

  1. In  a large ziploc bag combine 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, garlic, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds. Add chicken and seal and distribute the mixture among the chicken. (Note: if you do not have toasted sesame seeds, toast them first by putting them in a frying pan with no oil and on medium heat. Stir and cook until they are brown and smelly nutty.)
  2. Cook and drain noodles according to package. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large frying pan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over high heat for 1 minute. Add the chicken and fry, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is white and tender. Remove from heat and add chicken to noodles. (We have a new pan that does not require oil to cook, so we did not use any oil for the cooking. I love this new pan!)
  4. Wipe out pan. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and cook vegetables. (The recipe says to do this separately, but we did it together as a stir-fry.) Then add vegetables to chicken and noodles. 
  5. Combine 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, sesame oil and remaining sesame seeds. Pour over mixture.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.
 While this was cooking and we were eating we made Oi naeng guk or cold cucumber soup (the recipe also came from Cooking the Korean Way). We however did not really like it, so we are not going to share it with you. A different night I made Pulgogi (Barbecued beef) which we loved, but Hazel did not help make it and I didn't take any pictures (it was eaten before I got my camera out). The recipe also came from Cooking the Korean Way.

We have been enjoying some Korean stories as well. Here are the variety of picture books we have found at our library. One goes through the alphabet and describes things in Korea. Another counts to ten in English and Korean and relates each number to something in Korea. Then there are traditional stories as well as modern stories.
 We also made some crafts. One that we did was a simple version of the Korean game, Yut-nori.  There are simple instructions on TLC. We used dot markers instead of stickers and I let Hazel do it. We used glass gems as our playing pieces.

We also made a traditionally dressed paper doll. We got it from Hazel loved this craft and wants me to make more clothes for her.
We also made a Tradtional Korean Sam Taeguk Fan from a template found at 4 Crazy Kings. I let Hazel choose the colors and had not shown her theirs, but she picked the same colors.
Our final exploration of Korea has been listening to some music we got from the library. The first two CD's we listened to came from the adult section and they were all right, but we did not listen to them too long. We have not listened to the children's music yet, but I'm planning on bringing it in my car tomorrow on our way to school.

So that is our exploration of Korea. Have you cooked any Korean food that you would like to share in our trip around the world? This blog hop is brought to you by the following amazing blogs! Please be sure to visit them to see what they cooked this month.

Adventures In Mommydom - Afterschooling for Smarty Pants - All Done Monkey - Crafty Moms Share - Creative World of Varya - Glittering Muffins - Here Come The Girls - Kid World CitizenMermaids’ Makings - The Educators’ Spin On It - Maroc Mama

Also check out Around the World in 12 Dishes on Pinterest. Be sure to follow so you will not miss a thing! The Korean Placemat is available here and the Korean Passport Pages are available here. Now it is your turn to share or to be inspired to try some of the recipes shared at this blog hop!

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures--Kongi and Potgi: a Korean Cinderella

After having my parents visiting for Grandparents Day at Hazel's school, I am catching up with things like my blog. Today I am sharing a Korean Cinderella. On Tuesday I will be sharing our post for Around the World in 12 Dishes for Korea, so I thought it was a good time. We are doing our fairy tale today since Monday is the Virtual Book Club for Kids blog hop day. Before we get into the story, let's look at Korea a bit.

Korea is surrounded by water since rivers divide it from China and Russia and the Yellow Sea, Korea Strait and East Sea are on three sides. Korea is divided into two distinct sovereign states: North Korea and South Korea. The division of two separate governments happened at the end of World War II. North Korea was under the supervision of the Soviet Union, and South Korea was under the supervision/support of the United States and its Allies. North Korea is a communist republic and South Korea is a democracy. In 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea with Soviet backing causing the Korean War. The result was more than one million people dead in the three years of fighting with neither state gaining much land.
Map of korea en
Source: By Map_of_korea.png: User:Yonghokimderivative work: Valentim
(Map_of_korea.png) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Korea itself has a rich history with habitation going back to prehistory times. Hominid fossils have been found there dating to 100,000 BC or perhaps as far as 300,000 BC. In the 2nd century BC they adopted the Chinese alphabet, Hanja (in Korean), and in 1443 they developed their own alphabet, Hangul. This had a profound effect on Korea. Hangul is the official language of both North Korea and South Korea.  Their new alphabet was easier to learn and write. In the 4th century AD Buddhism was adopted.  Now there are several religions in South Korea, however the traditional beliefs of Korean Shamanism, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism remain the underlying religion for most Koreans.

Korean royal palace
Korean Palace Source: I, Skanky [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5],
via Wikimedia Commons
Throughout the centuries Korea was known for its silk and pottery. Their pottery made with blue green celadon was sought by even Arabian merchants since it was of the highest quality. One of the best known artifacts is the Cheomseongdae. It is the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia. It was built in 634. (Source)
Cheomseongdae Source: By Matt and Nayoung Wilson from Atlanta and surrounding, 
US (S1050317Uploaded by Caspian blue) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Now onto our story. I found three versions of this story. Two are picture books and one is a graphic novel. We will be using the version Kongi and Potgi by Oki S. Han for our summary, but all three were very similar.
In this story a couple have a daughter named Kongi. Kongi's mother gets ill and dies. Kongi's father fears his daughter not having a woman to help her as she gets older, so he remarries a woman who has a daughter Kongi's age named Potgi. He imagines Kongi and Potgi will become best friends. However this is not the case. The stepmother makes Kongi do all the chores while she and Potgi go to the market or relax. The father tries to stop this mistreatment, but realizes that his asking is not enough and goes along with it for the sake of his marriage. Then when there are events, she tells Kongi she cannot go unless she does near impossible jobs. However talking animals always come to her aid. 
Korean Doll I made last year

The first task is to hoe one of the fields. The stepmother gives Potgi the field near the river which is easy to hoe and give Kongi the one on the hillside which is much harder. Kongi breaks her wooden hoe trying to get the rocks out and finally ends up crying and a large ox comes to her aid and tells her he will clear and gives her an apple to eat. The stepmother and Potgi are at the market and see Kongi carrying a basket of apples. They are shocked she could be done already and she tells them about the ox, but they do not believe her. 

Before Kongi may go to the May Festival she must fill a jar with water, but the stepmother knows the jar has a hole in it near the bottom. A frog comes to help and stops the hole with his body. As Kongi and Potgi grew to be young women, they became excited to have the prince invite all the single young women to a great party is his honor so he could find a bride. This time the stepmother told Kongi she had to take bundles of grain to dry and remove each kernel of rice from the outer shell and she could not go to the palace until the jar was full. Sparrows came and helped her do this task. (This is similar to the Cinderella story from Vietnam.) After the jar is full, she realizes she has nothing to wear. Kongi looks at the sky and a beautiful rainbow appears with angels that dress her in the finest silks. Then four men with a sedan chair appear to carry her to the palace. 

When she walks in she gets everyone's attention. The prince comes right over to meet her. Kongi becomes flustered and runs away leaving behind one of the beautiful slippers the angels had put on her feet. The prince finds the slipper and vows to marry the woman who wore it. They search for the young woman by going to village to village and having women try it. The slipper always looks like it will fit, but never does until they get to Kongi. It fits her perfectly and she pulls out the matching one. Her stepmother and Potgi are amazed and later beg for her forgiveness for how they treated Kongi all these years. She forgives them and they begin doing things for others.

This is a lovely version since the stepmother and stepsister see their errors and Kongi forgives them. They all become better people and it is such a nice lesson to see at the end.