Sunday Funday in Koreatown by Aram Kim

Hello, Aram Kim! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for stopping by to celebrate Sunday Funday in Koreatown! I loved exploring Koreatown with Yoomi and her dad. They inspired me to cook bibimbap for dinner a few weeks ago. 

What materials did you use to create the art for Sunday Funday in Koreatown?

Aram Kim: I drew with pencil on paper, colored digitally on iPad mini, and finalized it in Photoshop on computer. Coloring on iPad mini was a new process for me. I was behind the art schedule and had to find more time to work on the art. My subway ride to work at the time was a little more than an hour one way, so I decided to utilize that time. I invested in iPad mini which is the size of a small sketchbook. That way, I could somewhat discretely work on it in the crowded subway during my commute. It was a huge help and I got a lot of art done during my subway rides everyday. Little did I know that I wouldn’t commute any longer within a month when the whole city shut down! But I got comfortable using the tablet, and kept working on it even at home. iPad mini has a limited capacity, so at the end, I finished all the work on the computer.

What’s the most fun thing about working on the Yoomi Friends and Family series?

Aram Kim: I’ve been having a lot of fun expanding Yoomi’s world. In the first book, No Kimchi for Me!, the story happens within the house, only with the family - Yoomi, two brothers, and grandma. When my publisher Holiday House asked me to work on a sequel, I wanted Yoomi to go out and have friends! So, in Let’s Go to Taekwondo!, Yoomi goes to dojang and interacts with friends and Master Cho learning how to deal with the challenges. Sunday Funday in Koreatown was originally pitched as a stand alone book. After discussing it with my editor and agent, we decided to turn it into a Yoomi book, and gave the series name Yoomi, Friends and Family. Here, I introduced Yoomi’s parents who didn’t get featured in the previous two books, and Yoomi’s world expands further out physically. She goes out to Koreatown and visits many different places!

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Kimbap is one of my favorite foods! It’s very yummy, versatile and nutritious. You can pretty much put any ingredients you want inside, and it will still be yummy. I love making it with my mom when I go home. Well, she does most of the cooking, then I just slice them and eat a lot of them. In fact, I included my mom’s kimbap recipe in the back of the book. Kimbap is a #1 picnic food in Korea, so when kids go to picnic or a field trip at school, they all bring kimbap lunch. Every family has their own recipe, so it is a lot of fun exchanging kimbap with your friends!

Yoomi’s family takes a family trip to Jeju Island in South Korea outside of the book. When Holiday House asked me to make a photo of Yoomi’s family, I imagined them visiting Korea. And when you visit Korea, you got to visit Jeju Island! Jeju Island is famous for its abundance of canola flower fields, so the photo was taken in it. The photo is actually displayed in the background of the grandma’s kitchen at the end of the book, though very small. Working on Yoomi’s family photo brought me a lot of happy memories of my own family. I feel very lucky that I get to reflect many of my childhood memories into Yoomi’s world and relive it.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what inspired me to create Sunday Funday in Koreatown. It started with a story I wrote and sketched out in 2013 with a working title Sunday Walk with Dad. It was based on my childhood memory of taking long walks with my dad on Sundays, around the town, to the library, and to grandma’s. After my dad passed away in 2012, writing and drawing a story based on my memory with him helped me cope with the loss and to commemorate him. When I decided to turn this story into Yoomi series, I added an element of Koreatown. When I moved to New York City in 2006, I knew very little about the city. I walked around the city a lot, just exploring. One day, when I stumbled upon a Koreatown, I was dumbstruck. I never even imagined that there would be a whole block full of Korean restaurants, bookstores, supermarkets, and everything else I could think of, in the middle of the city. It was a piece of home I missed so much. Mixing in all these good memories, Sunday Funday in Koreatown was born.

Thank you, Aram! 

Aram Kim is a writer and illustrator as well as a designer of picture books for children. She was born in Ohio, raised in South Korea, and now lives in Queens, NY, happily surrounded by diverse food and culture. By day, she is a senior designer at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. By all other times, she writes and illustrates her own stories.

Look for Sunday Funday in Koreatown on March 2, 2021. 

Holiday House's Description: 

Yoomi and Daddy are going to Koreatown today! This story celebrates family, resilience, and Korean culture.

Yoomi has planned the perfect Sunday! But the shirt she wants to wear is in the laundry. And she doesn’t have the seaweed she needs for a kimbap breakfast.

So Yoomi wears another shirt and eats a different breakfast, and she and Daddy take a bus to Koreatown, where they read Korean books, eat Korean treats such as patbingsu and tteokbokki, and visit Grandma. Though Yoomi’s perfect day is filled with mishaps and things don’t always go her way, Yoomi learns the advantages of being resilient and open-minded. Yoomi’s imperfect day is better than she ever could have imagined!

A family recipe for kimbap is included.


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