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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
When Spring Comes to the DMZ
by Uk-Bae Lee
Age Range: 6-8
Sometimes when conflict and bad things happen between adults, it can be hard to imagine how the rest of nature (including animals) will be impacted. With a refrain of “when spring comes to the DMZ,” and switching between “summer,” “autumn,” and “winter,” animal families are thriving in their untouched habitat closed off by “the razor wire fence” from surrounding conflict on each side. In the book with the same name as the refrain, When Spring Comes to the DMZ, Korean author Uk-Bae Lee and translators Chungyon Won and Aileen Won create a lively picture of the wildlife sanctuary in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
At the very end of the book, there are very helpful explanations of the Korean Peninsula and the DMZ—elementary-aged readers who are not too familiar with Korean history might find it beneficial to read this page in the back before proceeding with the story.
One of the most striking parts of When Spring Comes to the DMZ is the double-folded page towards the end of the book: folding out the pages of Uk-Bae Lee’s illustration of the razor wire fence reveals a four-page-wide page landscape of the imagined image of the narrator and his Grandfather walking peacefully through the meadow of the DMZ. Now in a changing world, we can only wonder what will happen to the animals that call the DMZ home from the impact of human conflict and potential peace.
When Spring Comes to the DMZ was an Honor winner of the Mildred L. Bachelder Award in 2020 and is part of the Reading the World: Picture Books and Translation at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 2022.
Catherine Hurwitz (March22)