Mindy Kim and the Mid-Autumn Festival

Mindy Kim and the Mid-Autumn Festival
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Release Date
September 26, 2023
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Fresh Off the Boat meets Junie B. Jones in this adorable chapter book series following Mindy Kim, a young Asian American girl—in this tenth novel, Mindy honors the fall harvest with the Korean mid-autumn holiday Chuseok.

After Mindy’s beloved haraboji (grandpa) passes away, Mindy, Dad, and Julie decide to go to Korea to be with family for the annual Chuseok celebration. The traditional mid-autumn festival is all about family and honoring one’s ancestors. And while everyone has gathered for a very sad reason, Mindy is determined to make her first official Chuseok one to remember.

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1 review
Mooncakes, Tea, and Sympathy
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Mindy'a father gets a call from Korea that his own father has passed away. After a hasty consultation with his wife, Julie, they tell Mindy that the family will be traveling back to attend the grandfather's funeral and celebrate Chuseok with the extended family. Mindy has good memories of her Harabeogi, but is excited to go back to Korea, and to see her Halmeoni (grandmother). First, they have to drive from Orlando to Atlanta, and it's a long flight. The extended family welcomes them, and the preparations for the funeral and the Chuseok celebration begin. Mindy is able to talk to her cousins, who miss Harabeogi even more than she does, and gets a lot of insight into the traditional ways that lives are celebrated. She helps with the shopping and food preparation, and is interested in the way that the feast is presented to the deceased ancestors before the living are invited to partake. The Kim family has a burial plot in the mountains. There's a lot of traffic, since everyone is celebrating, but the family plot is deeply historical, and Mindy learns a little about the 25 generations of her family whose ashes are interred there. The family also goes to a historical village so that Mindy and her cousins, as well as some of the aunts and uncles, can play traditional autumn festival games. Mindy knows that her Harabeogi would want the family to enjoy themselves for the holiday, and is glad that he is first and foremost in everyone's mind as the celebrate both the festival and his life.
Good Points
Elementary school students often experience their first funerals around this age, and it is frequently a grandparent who passed away. Funerals vary from culture to culture, but books depicting funerals are a good way of helping children navigate both their grief and unfamiliar experiences.

It's very common for children to not know their cousins well or see them often, so it was good to see Mindy get along with her cousins, and to be able to hear their memories of her grandfather without being too jealous. I loved that she also got some insight into her father's younger years by talking to her uncle.

It is more common to find picture books about death and grief, and while this is certainly a major part of this book, it is more a book about being with family and celebrating together. Several other popular chapter book series touch on holidays and celebrations as well, so I would recommend Florence's Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen, Saadia Faruqi's Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party, and Reem Faruqi's Anisa's International Day as titles to consider if you like this Mindy Kim installment.
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