When Spring Comes to the DMZ

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Member Reviews

Great short book, for all ages with great illustrations and a heart-warming story.
Thanks Netgalley for the free review copy!
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This is a lovely story about a terrible part of history (and present). There would be a lot to unpack for a child, making this a better picture book for an older reader and read aloud with an adult, but I do believe it is a good story for a child nonetheless. The child telling the story doesn't necessarily have the whole story of the demilitarized zone, but he sees the changing of the seasons through the animals that live there and the people who guard both sides. The illustrations are striking in the way they juxtapose natural beauty with fences, razor wire, and weapons. This should invite a lot of conversations and contemplation.
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‘This unique picture book invites young readers into the natural beauty of the DMZ, where salmon, spotted seals, and mountain goats freely follow the seasons and raise their families in this 2.5-mile-wide, 150-mile-long corridor where no human may tread. But the vivid seasonal flora and fauna are framed by ever-present rusty razor wire, warning signs, and locked gates—and regularly interrupted by military exercises that continue decades after a 1953 ceasefire in the Korean War established the DMZ.’

Lee's When Spring Comes to the DMZ is a delightful picture book following the cycle of seasons in the safe zone. You get to see all kinds animals that have made the DMZ home. It's truly a natural wonderland. It was so sad about the grandfather though. It's too deep for a children's book, but I wanted to know his thoughts. Was he from the area now North Korea? Did he fight in the war? Lose family during it? What were his thoughts on the changes in the DMZ? I read this with my cubs and we all enjoyed it!  

***Many thanks to Netgalley & Plough Publishing for providing an ecopy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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'When Spring Comes to the DMZ' with words and illustrations by Uk-Bae Lee is a poignant children's book about living in a split country.

Following the seasons, we see wildlife flourishing along the DMZ between North and South Korea.  Along with flora and fauna are the ever present soldiers and harsh fences.  A lone grandfather visits every season and climbs the wall on the South to look over to the North.  The book ends with an explanation to what this DMZ is all about and how nature is protected here for now.

The illustrations are very nice in this book.  The sadness of the story will probably be lost on most small kids, but it wasn't on me as the grandfather goes to look towards what used to be his home, and perhaps to look for relatives left behind.  Simply beautiful.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Plough Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.
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It's difficult to present the divide between North and South Korea in a way that's appropriate for younger children.  Lee does this by keeping the focus on the animals that live in the DMZ, while still showing the barbed wire, the soldiers, and the poignancy of Grandfather's visits to look across the divide.  Notes at the end provide context that adults reading to younger children can explain as appropriate.  Recommended.
Review based on an ARC through NetGalley.
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I found this book touching and poignant, not knowing too much about the subject myself, but I do not feel ready to use it as an educator. I do not need a book on this subject for my classroom in Italy currently, but I think it was very sensitively written and suitable for young readers, so should the need arise I would not hesitate to use this one.
The illustrations are beautiful and the pace of the book is very calming.
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This  beautifully illustrated book will be an important addition to any library. As a book intended for a younger audience, it sensitively conveys the story of a difficulty reality in a way that helps children understand the situation without unduly frightening them.  It is a valuable book for any teacher, librarian, or parent planning a history or cultural lesson for young children.
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A wonderful, important book with amazing illustrations. I was reading along with my partner and mole, and while we all knew about DMZ in the political sense, it was very enlightening to also find out how it doubles as a nature reserve, which is a fantastic, almost alternative reality aspect of the unfortunate rift between the Koreas. I expected a little more drama, thinking that the grandfather who was climbing the outlook point was separated from someone in North Korea. But I don't know if that would work well in a children's book, and also it would probably be too on the nose. So I thank  Uk-Bae Lee sincerely for his measured, restrained approach to a painful issue. And for the way he painted pigs and seals, so very cute! Will definitely buy the print version as a gift to smart kids.
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This beautifully illustrated and extremely touching picture book tells the story of an area I didn't even know existed. The DMZ, or the demilitarized zone, is the 2.5-mile-wide, 150-mile-long corridor between North and South Korea. Separated by fences, it is a lush land full of wildlife and forests where no one is safe to walk. It's a paradise, surrounded by war. 

It's told from the perspective of a grandfather to his grandchild, and it is so poignant, the grandfather is clearly so upset. But there is joy in the creatures who inhabit this forbidden world, and it's truly so, so touching. 

On the other hand, this absolutely does not read as a children's book. I feel like on the one hand, the young generation should understand what war can do to a country, but the age range for this type of book cannot comprehend this subject matter, and in fact, it may scare them too much for the message to get through. 

I tried to imagine the children I know of different ages receiving this message, and while I can think of one little girl who could potentially get a lot from it, I do not know that I would be comfortable sending her this book. It's beautiful, but the subject matter is so heavy for such a young heart. 

It's a good book, and an important book, but I think it's too much book. It saddens my heart, and I am very old, and very jaded. I don't know that I would want to do that to a child.
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“When Spring Comes to the DMZ” is a beautiful depiction of a heartbreaking reality that is unfamiliar to many students. I really appreciate Uk-Bae Lee’s portrayal of the wildlife and nature that are present within the DMZ territory. We don’t often think about the peace that nature brings to the land despite the hatred and offense of man which the land is more notably known for. Uk-Bae Lee’s inclusion of the grandfather is not only precious, but shows the brutal effect the DMZ has on the Korean people. The separation, the loss, all can be felt in this heartfelt look at the DMZ in a way that students can comprehend.
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A look at the animals that have made the DMZ between North and South Korea home, how activities around the DMZ change with the seasons for both animals and people. And how many people long to be able to cross that place where the animals roam freely.

How do you broach the subject of old military actions and the divisions between countries and politics with kids? The author of this book has chosen to use animals living peacefully and contrast it with the activities of soldiers going through practice maneuvers in this book, and the way the division is breaking one old man’s heart. In the back of the book are more details about how the DMZ in Korea came to be, why many animals thrive in this space now, and what people who seek reunification of the Koreas desire. I know of absolutely no other books for younger kids that dare to tackle the topic of Korean division and reunification. I also don’t know of any other book that looks at rare animals of Korea. This book is a tactful look at the ways that war can tear people apart and the ways that peace can bring life. Definitely recommended for kids who live in Korea or who are about to visit Korea. Also may be a good book to read for middle grade kids studying the Korean War and older students looking at themes and symbolism in literature. And, of course, also a good book for animal lovers and those studying rare and endangered species of the world.

I received an ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This book, The Spring comes to the DMZ, is an ARC from Plough Publishing.
It is a well illustrated and descriptive picture book that follows a Korean Grandfather as he views life within the Demilitarized Zone in Korea. The descriptive images of open skies, animals, and vegetation that are illustrated and the story of how the Grandfather yearns to see the other side provides a story of how life continues to prosper within the zone, and yet how it continues to deter life. 
At the end of the book is a short, informative epilogue on the History of South and North Korea and how the DMZ began. Very informative for both young readers and adults.
Would definitely like to see this book in my Local library.
Thank you to Plough Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me with this book. To the author UK-Bae Lee, thank you for creating a book so that the world could have some understanding about  living within a divided country.
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This picture book shares a part of the world that is probably very unfamiliar to most Americans, young or old, the border of North and South Korea. The story is well-done, but the images are wonderful. They show the animals whose habitat has been disrupted by the war. Plenty of detail makes these images worth exploring. Mind you, this book has a clear anti-North Korea point of view, but I found that positive.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I am not entirely sure this should be a children's picture book. There are wonderful illustrations, and a clear progression through seasons, which I think was the goal of the book. In that regard, it was successful. I get the feeling the author was trying to push an agenda item, rather than illustrate a story. The story was of a child and his grandfather, repeatedly visiting the DMZ fence to observe wildlife within. I think that should have been the primary objective, but felt as if it was secondary. What I felt as primary objective was to illustrate how and why the fence was there, even though it's not part of the story. I feel an undercurrent of anger at the situation as the driver of the book, instead of educating children. The small historical blurb (which I would have preferred at the beginning) made the point clear, regarding the desire to remove the fence between North and South Korea. It was in this blurb that "DMZ" was defined, and I think in a book intended for children who do not know what it stands for, or even that it is an acronym, this should have been first.
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"When Spring Comes to the DMZ" is a beautifully illustrated and valuable children's book. I really liked how there were descriptions of nature along the DMZ as well as the military presence. I think this book would be so great to have in a classroom or for parents to read at home because it can help teach kids (and adults) about the DMZ and the Korean peninsula in an easy to understand way.
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This is a very difficult book to review. The illustrations are amazingly beautiful. I liked the expressions on the faces of soldiers and seals. I see the value in the book`s message but I am not sure I would choose it for children as the main audience.
Overall the feeling is sad but the message that unification could be possible in the future is hopeful. I am just not getting that message.
Grandfather hopes it is possible in his lifetime, but wishes and dreams do not make it so.

There is value in the hopefulness implied, but sadness in the history conveyed.
This book would be a conversation starter, but that conversation will be a difficult one.
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When Spring Comes to the DMZ- is a stunningly illustrated picturebook. Uk-Bae Lee sneaks us into the middle of the forbidden ecological gem flourishing in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a heavily fortified military gray boundary dividing North and South Korea. We see glimpses of contrast...razor wire fences, armed military soldiers training and guarding their side, and we feel the tension of two sides lacking cohesion. And we see lush floral and fauna, an abundance of animal activity, and the woven perfection of a healthy protected ecosystem. Sometimes you can see things of immense beauty where one expects to see only unfriendly sterile silence. And sometimes the natural beauty that comes invited or not- will thrive in those places, in spite of the once unwelcoming space. This book has wide age appeal and can offer various purposes, from discourse about habitats to human ecology to boundaries formed by conflict. I love the diversity of illustrations and formats;  borders, double spreads, full bleeds, vignettes. Such a clever scaffolding to the narrative. I also love the details in the architecture, the street signs, and the animals frolicking in their perfect home and space. This is a really high quality picturebook that I would recommend for all ages. I think emerging thinkers to developed would have a lot of interesting responses to this book.
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South Korean author and artist Uk-Bae Lee has crafted an enchanting book that contrasts the wildlife that now thrive in the demilitarized zone that divides North and South Korea with the military men who keep the two peoples apart. Lee’s softly tinted, detailed illustrations hail back to an earlier time, reminding me of Lois Lenski’s Strawberry Girl, Berta and Elmer Haders’s The Big Snow, or any of Marguerite de Angeli’s beautiful books.

In When Spring Comes to the DMZ, a boy and his grandfather observe the seasons come and go in the demilitarized zone, while the grandfather pines for his former home in North Korea. The book is touching and beautiful, as appealing to adults as to children. Highly recommended.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Annick Press in exchange for an honest review.
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When Spring Comes to the DMZ is a book of contradictions.  It is a statement by a grandfather about his unhappiness being separated from the North but told by a child who has no background in a unified Korea.  Through seasonal trips to the wall that borders the DMZ, we are shown how the DMZ - long abandoned by people - is now something of a wildlife refuge.  Beautiful paintings show bucolic scenes tempered by razor wire and warnings in Korean.  

The ending felt politicized to some extent (written originally in 2010 but advocating reunification at some level) and I wonder if this is the original intent of the author.  I worried for all the animals wandering amongst the mines and (probably unwarrantedly) worried children would never grasp how destructive and dangerous the land there and in other demilitarized zones can be.  Still, there is nothing like this on the market.  For that and the pictures, this book should be considered.  But for those libraries with Korean patrons, I would ask them their opinion and I would love to know the opinion of both Korean Americans and South Koreans.
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This is a touching story with beautiful illustrations. The story shares the beauty and growth that continues in the DMZ as the narrator's grandfather visits during each season looking north in longing to his home land. Apparently the DMZ is a strip of land that has become a wild life refuge between North and South Korea. Uk-Bae Lee skillfully uses this area to portray its natural beauty while also conveying the sadness of war, separation and loss. In addition to the growth and beauty of the animals and land, there are images showing the soldiers in training.

This is appropriate for children and parents who want to show their children how war and separation causes pain but still provides moments of beauty. I highly recommend it.

Source: NetGalley.
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