UQP is thrilled to announce the release of When My Name Was Keoko, a heart-warming tale of courage, resilience and hope from master storyteller and winner of prestigious Newbery Medal, Linda Sue Park.
When her name was Keoko, Japan owned Korea, and Japanese soldiers ordered people around, telling them what they could do or say, even what sort of flowers they could grow.
When her name was Keoke, World War II came to Korea, and her friends and family, even her older brother, had to work and fight for Japan.
When her name was Keoko, she never forgot her name was actually Kim Sun-hee. An no matter what she was called, she was Korean. Not Japanese.
Linda Sue was inspired to write the extraordinary story of When My Name Was Keoko when she learnt of a hidden truth from her parents' childhoods.
'They grew up in Korea during the Japanese occupation and have vivid memories of Korea's liberation at the end of World War II. My parents never talked much about this time in their lives," she says.
'I was reading about Korean history and came across the fact that during the Japanese annexation of Korea, they required all Korean citizens to take Japanese names. I was astounded by this – the re-naming of an entire population – and asked my mother if she had had a Japanese name. 'Of course," she said. 'I was Kaneyama Keoko".
While many fine books exist for young people about World War II, Linda Sue discovered that nearly all of them are set in Europe. As she comments, 'There are very few titles about the war in the Pacific, and even fewer about occupied Korea. My hope is that young readers will appreciate learning about life in an occupied country as much as I did."
Certain to be enjoyed by young and old alike, When My Name Was Keoko is an inspiring tale about what happens when your culture, country and identity are threatened.
Linda Sue Park is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen books for young readers who received the Newbery Medal for her novel A Single Shard. She has worked as a food journalist, a public relations writer and a teacher of English as a second language. She now writes full time and travels widely, including visits to India, Russia and Korea, to meet readers and promote reading. She lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband. They have two grown children.
When My Name Was Keoko
Author: Linda Sue Park