Skip to main content
by Anne Sibley O'Brien

illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien


School Library Journal:

Gr 3 Up– While Library of Congress places this book with graphic novels, it stands on its own as a traditional tale. It’s possibly the first novel written in the Korean alphabet. O’Brien has done her homework, using sources in Korean and English and researching her images to display the culture and time period accurately. Her references are well explained and documented. This is a book that demands that readers engage with the text and the art. Hong Kil Dong is successfully characterized from the beginning, and as he is the son of a maidservant and a powerful minister, it is easy to sympathize with his plight. Unable to be acknowledged or even to refer to his father as such, he must determine his own destiny. It is this pursuit that leads him to learn of the injustices toward common people brought on by corrupt officials. The layout alternates between full-page images that frequently include insets and text bubbles and a traditional frame-by-frame graphic format. This serves to heighten the action. The art, done in heavy black line and mostly pastel watercolors, will appeal to the comic-book crowd, but the story–with its magic, martial arts, and drama–will entice reluctant readers as well as adventure lovers.–Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library –Janet S. Thompson (Reviewed September 1, 2006) (School Library Journal, vol 52, issue 9, p239)


  • Asian Pacific American Award for Literature: Picture Book


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Folklore, Graphic Novel