Q: What do you think Mommy's Hometown says about family stories, and also about the idea of home?
A: In Mommy’s Hometown, home is a place that remains steadfast despite the passage of time. In this story, Grandma is like the old river, staying constant even as the town changes around her.
By the end, the child learns why his mother cherishes her memories of her hometown through his personal experiences during the visit. He understands that how we define “home” is not in the physical elements, but in the memories and emotional connections.
Q: What do you think Jaime Kim's illustrations add to the story?
A: Jaime’s stunning illustrations complement my text, but they also stand on her own. When I wrote this story, I pictured specific images based on my hometown and many visits to Korea.
Jamie’s illustrations captured some of them perfectly in an uncanny way, but overall, she translates her ideas and vision so brilliantly on each page that I feel like I am seeing an additional layer of the story unfold.
Her beautiful illustrations made this story come to life and now we have this visual realization of a place called home, where old and new co-exist through a vibrant, urban life in Korea.
Q: How did you first get interested in creating children’s picture books?
A: Two things came together.
First, I kept a daily journal of my children when they were younger. It was filled with my observations of their daily activities, funny things they said, and my thoughts on parenting.
Second, I was constantly reading to my children, all different types of books. I was drawn to the power of picture books, where a single word or illustration can convey deep emotions. The power of picture books and my observations on my kids came together to inspire me to write my own books and share them with the world.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am working on a broad range of projects with various themes, including the emotions of children, appreciating the present, and paying attention to individuals too often overlooked and ignored in our society.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I love all of Jaime’s illustrations, but the last one really tugs my heart. It’s a critical and satisfying moment when the child fully immerses himself in his mother’s childhood experiences and finally “sees” her hometown.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb