Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth

Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth

Joan Schoettler, Author

Jessica Lana, Illustrator

Shen’s Books, Historical Fiction, 2011

Suitable for:  Ages 5 and up

AwardsNational Council for the Social Studies in association with the Children’s Books Council as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book of 2012; and ForeWord Magazine 2011 Book of the Year Finalist.

Themes: Korean wrapping cloths, Sewing, Mother and daughter relationship, 18th Century

Opening/Synopsis:  “Eomma, listen.  Horses.”  Ji-su pressed closer to her mother.  Stay.  Don’t go to King Yongjo’s court.”  Eomma told her again, “It is an honor for me, and our family, to sew bojagi for the royal household.  The Sanguiwon master searches for the finest seamstresses.  He saw one of my bojagi at the market and chose me.  I must go to Hanyang.”  Ji’su begs to go with her Eomma (mother) to the King’s palace, but she is too young.  As her mother leaves, she hands Ji-su a gift.   She unfolds bojagi (wrapping cover) and finds Eomma’s box containing a needle, thread, a thimble, a ruler, a pair of scissors, a small iron called an indoo, and an irons with a bowl to hold charcoals called a darimi.  Ji-su knows what she’s to do and asks her old aunt to teach her how to sew bojagi.  This is the only way she’ll see her mother again.  She begins to work on her stitches.  Seasons pass as Ji-su perfects her bojagi.  One day the Sanguiwon master visits her village.  She eagerly shows him her work.  He sees her potential and tells her that if she can make more bojagi before the Dano Festival, he will look at her work again when he passes through.  Nothing matters to Ji-su but perfecting her stitching.  Will her stitching be good enough for the royal family and reunite her with her mother?

Why I like this book:   Joan Schoettler has written a beautiful love story about a mother and daughter.  Ji-su is very determined and courageous girl, who works through many seasons to perfect her artistry with the hopes of being reunited with her mother.  The story is filled with Korean words and there is glossary at the end.  Jessica Lanan has captured the beautiful culture and landscape of ancient Korea in her soft illustrations.  They are simply stunning.   Schoettler viewed a collection of bojagi wrapping cloths at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.  She met a Korean-born fiber artist known internationally for her bojagi, and was inspired to write this book.  The Korean wrapping cloths called bojagi that were sewn from Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897.)   The wrapping cloths were used for everything and believed to be good luck for the person receiving a bojagi.

Shen’s Books  is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia ranging from China,  Japan, Korea, the Southeast Asia,  and the Pacific Islands.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

27 thoughts on “Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth

  1. This looks amazing, Pat! I really want to read it. I know so little about Korean culture. Did you read Snow Flower And The Secret Fan? This kind of reminds me of that because she was at the mercy of others too.


  2. This looks beautifully authentic, Pat. I hadn’t heard of the bojagi and love its significance. What an incredibly long dynasty, too! Love the source of the story idea.


    • Joanna, is beautiful. I loved the story about the dynasty and an art form. And, my daughter’s boyfriend was deployed to Korea for a year and I’m learning more about the culture. Also have friends with children from Korea.


  3. Tae Dan Hee Kamsa Hamnida! (Thank you so much) for introducing this book. I lived in Korea for two years and taught Korean at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey for four years. I’m looking forward to getting a copy of this book to have in our shop… something special for our Korean customers.


  4. This sounds like a great story! I like when authors incorporate the language from the culture they’re writing about. I recently read a YA book about a girl who moves to the US from Mexico and the author did such a great job integrating Spanish words and phrases into the writing.


    • Amanda, I’m happy you enjoyed the story. Would be interested in knowing the book you read, interesting it is a YA book. I particularly liked this book since it is about Korea and I don’t know a lot about the culture and the art.


  5. Don’t know how I mist this post. I love the story and its one I would have picked up in the library had I seen it. It’s right up my alley, as I also have a few Korean customers come into my work place. Lovely book and review.


    • Diane you would love this book. I have found myself drawn to books for kids about Korea. We know so little. I didn’t make it a PPB because I couldn’t come up with an activity on an ancient art form. I should have asked Vivian or Donna!


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