Cover image for Goyangi means cat
Goyangi means cat
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2011.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 28 cm.
Reading Level:
AD 520 L Lexile
An understanding cat helps a young Korean girl adjust to her new home in America.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY MCD 1 1
Book EASY MCD 1 1
Book EASY MCD 1 1
Book EASY MCD 1 1

On Order



When Soo Min comes from Korea to live with her new American family, she struggles to learn English and adjust to unfamiliar surroundings. She finds great comfort in the family's cat, Goyangi - that is, until he runs away. After searching the streets with her mother, Soo Min discovers her beloved pet has returned to the house, and speaks her first English word - 'Goyangi home.' This gentle story reveals that home is truly where the heart is.

Author Notes

Authors Bio, not available

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Soo Min's adoptive parents do all the right things. They learn and use many Korean words, and they decorate their home in patterns echoing East and West, but the food is strange to the child. So are Apah's beard and Omah's light eyes. Luckily, the child has Goyangi. Going home from the park, the library, or her new school is, in Soo Min's mind, going to the cat. Yet just as her love for the animal seems to ease her acculturation, it runs away. This loss proves too much for her. "She cried for Goyangi. She cried for Korea. So many tears. Omah held her and rocked her." This story of a small cat's role in Soo Min's transition is universal. But what makes this picture book so special is the integration of the Korean transliterated words into the text, and even into the art. There are words painted in Korean on each page, not in boldface, but integrated into the collage and oil illustrations and echoed throughout the story. Youngsters reading this book will learn a handful of Korean words. This title is an inspiration to the depth of communication and shared language that form the basis of cultural understanding.-Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

The experience of being adopted by parents who speak another language is vividly portrayed in McDonnell's (Dog Wants to Play) account of the first weeks of a Korean child's life in a new country. Johnson and Fancher (A Boy Named FDR) dwell on the safe, comfortable home that Soo Min's American parents offer her; their collages highlight the colorful textiles that decorate the walls and furniture. Yet this warmth is no consolation for Soo Min, whose new parents know only "a few Korean words." Simple words (family, home, cat, etc.) appear in Korean within the artwork, making patterns that contrast with those in the house, just as Soo Min's language contrasts with theirs. "Goyangi," the word for cat, becomes the Siamese cat's new name; Soo Min lavishes attention on it, and when it disappears, she's inconsolable. "She cried for Goyangi. She cried for Korea. So many tears." But when Goyangi returns, Soo Min speaks her first English sentence-"Goyangi home." By facing head-on the difficulties that can sometimes accompany adoption, the book provides a sensitive depiction of an experience that readers-or their friends-may have gone through themselves. Ages 3-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Soo Min, a little girl from Korea, is joining her new parents, Omah and Apah, in the states. It's a challenge to adjust to all the changes -- the food is foreign, Omah's eyes are light, and Apah has a beard -- and Soo Min misses her Korean friends. The process is made easier with the help of the cat (Goyangi in Korean), whom Soo Min feeds, sleeps with, and watches over. A week after her arrival, Goyangi slips out of the house and disappears. Searching the neighborhood, calling his name, Soo Min fears that Goyangi is gone forever, which makes their reunion all the sweeter. The gentle collage illustrations, made of paper and acrylic and oil paint, contain patterns "selected to reflect the Eastern and Western worlds of Soo Min." Painted into the illustrations are Korean words related to each scene. On some pages, the words are written left to right in western style, while others are traditional Korean, written top to bottom and right to left. This careful combination pulls the story together and allows the reader to focus in on Soo Min's two worlds and her new parents -- who love her enough to give her the time she needs to adjust. Perfect for children who are welcoming a new child to their family or classroom. robin l. smith (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

This beautifully illustrated, gentle adoption story stands out from most other treatments of the topic by honestly and reassuringly addressing the lossof a birth family, a birth cultureinherent in adoption as well as the joy a new family experiences.Here, Soo Min, a young Korean girl, is adopted by an American couple. Everything seems strange and new: She doesn't speak any English; her adoptive parents know little Korean. She finds comfort with Goyangi ("cat"), who doesn't need language to communicate, whose fur she strokes when afraid and who "licked her hand with his towelly tongue" when she is homesick for Korea. Soft-focus collage-and-paint illustrations show the family members getting to know one another: at the playground, in the library, playing soccer and just spending time at home together. Korean words in hanja (characters) incorporated into the pictures' backgrounds and the presence of Korean words in the Western alphabet interspersed throughout the text make this an excellent choice to share with children like Soo Min; seeing the words in both languages comforts as well as educates. Soo Min's age isn't specified; she looks about 2 or 3, which is older than most Korean children adopted in the United States, but that doesn't take away from the main idea.A sensitive portrayal of international adoption, authentically and realistically done. (Picture book. 4-7)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Simple words and gentle, soft-toned pictures tell this story, true to a young child's viewpoint, about a Korean girl who is adopted by a white American family. At first, the text and images show how Soo Min feels like a stranger in a home in which people do not look like her and cannot speak her language, and she doesn't know any English. Her close bond is with the family cat, which she names Goyangi. Then Goyangi goes missing, and Soo Min crie. for the cat and for Kore. until Goyangi comes home, and at last, Soo Min feels as if she does, too. It's the story's honesty about how hard Soo Min's adjustment is that makes her final homecoming so moving. The beautiful, patterned art in paper collage and acrylic and oil paint nicely echoes the text's emotions; Soo Min's body language, particularly, shows the pain of being a child alone in a strange world. The messages are never heavy, and kids will relate to the universal themes of family and finding home.--Rochman, Haze. Copyright 2010 Booklist