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Cooper's Lesson
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Cooper's Lesson

By Sun Yung Shin
Illustrated by Kim Cogan
2004, 31 pages, hardback.
Book Description from Back Cover
Comment from the Author
About the Author and Illustrator

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Book Description from Back Cover

Cooper has had about enough of being half and half. And he's certainly had enough of Mr. Lee, the owner of his neighborhood grocery store, speaking to him in Korean even though Cooper can't keep up. Why can't things be simple? Why can't he just be one thing or the other?

One moment in Mr. Lee's store changes everything for Cooper. Before long he realizes that the things that make up who we are are never simple-whether you talk about them in English or in Korean. Kim Cogan's richly hued oil paintings complement perfectly this story of identity and intergenerational friendship, and author Sun Yung Shin brings her characters to life with tender, vivid prose.

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Comment from the Author

Like many other adopted Korean children and second generation Korean Americans, I've been asked, "Do you speak Korean?" Or, often, older Koreans simply speak to me in Korean, assuming I will know how to respond. Sheepishly, I always have to say, "I only speak a little. I'm learning!" I always wonder what personal connections and fascinating stories I'm missing out on.

In writing Cooper's Lesson, I wanted to capture what can be lost and gained as different generations adapt to and influence their adopted cultures. I also wanted to explore how language plays such an important part in who we are and how we relate to other people. I imagined how one boy might come to understand - and challenge - himself when he feels caught between two worlds. And I imagine how Mr. Lee, who as a Korean grocer may be a well-known figure to some, would have a lesser-known past all his own. I truly believe that cross-cultural and intergenerational friendships - like the one that develops between Cooper and Mr. Lee - are an essential way for all of us to explore the different parts of who we are.
-Sun Yung Shin

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Background on the Author and Illustrator

Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1974. She was adopted by American parents in 1975 and grew up in the Chicago area. A poet, essayist, and teacher, Sun Yung currently lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their two young children.

Kim Cogan was born in Pusan, Korea. After coming to the United States to live with a loving family who adopted him, Kim grew up in the Bay Area. An award-winning young artist, Kim has exhibited his paintings in over a dozen shows nationwide.

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