Chewy Noh has many problems. Besides his mom becoming a mu-dang—a Korean fortune-teller possessed by his dead grandmother who can read minds—the school bully, Kent, is still on the warpath to get Chewy kicked out of school. With his secret ability to win at everything, none of this bothers him until he starts disappearing for no reason while a mysterious force attacks his fellow students, and he must scramble to figure out what’s going on before he becomes its next and final victim.
As stated before, I like placing double or hidden meanings in my titles when I can. For this one, Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter, I wanted to enforce a major idea of the book, that being Prisoners of War. As many may know, a common acronym for Prisoners of War is POW. For this reason, my title can also be read as ‘Chewy Noh and the POW’ as Phantasm of Winter can be shortened in the same way.
To All My Girls
This dedication is a little more personal in nature. In the past decade or so that I’ve taught, I’ve had many girl students, especially of late elementary and middle school ages. Because of this, I’ve seen how they react to the world around them and the way they see themselves fit into it. Unfortunately, as it is for many girls, some of my students had negative images of themselves. I have seen them grow from positive, charming, beautiful girls into self-conscious, doubting teens or pre-teens. The constrast was stark and unnerving. In this way, the character, Su Bin, in this book stands as an amalgam of many of them. She is smart, but weak and full of doubt. She doesn’t believe she is pretty and not just because of her own thoughts. Many times the world around her agrees with her secret doubts, and it makes her all the more pained. Su Bin’s appearance doesn’t coincide with the types and standards Koreans hold most beautiful. Nonetheless, having lived in Korea for many years, I’ve noticed that many times these standards don’t always overlap with American standards, and I wanted the Su Bins of the world to know and understand that.
As always my brother made the cover. It’s a bit different from the first one. I felt the first one had a nice, strong ‘classic’ feel to it. While this one embarks–like the book–down a different avenue. So I feel it is fitting. The first one below is an original before some small details were added. One, in order to get the title to fit many publising sites demands, we needed to move the text. Secondly, the flash background was overwhelming, and I felt as ‘winter’ is in the title, a winter element had to be placed somewhere on the cover, hence the final one below.
Important Questions Readers Have Raised
One review brought up a very important issue for middle grade and YA books. It deals with the presence or lack of presence when it comes to adults in these books. One reviewer felt this book was one good example of the latter. The reviewer didn’t understand why Chewy’s mom wasn’t very visible throughout the book. Personally, I don’t see it. She was in and or mentioned in many chapters. What do you think? Please leave comments below.