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The Firekeeper's Son

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  223 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
In Korea in the early 1800s, news from the countryside reached the king by means of signal fires. On one mountaintop after another, a fire was lit when all was well. If the king did not see a fire, that meant trouble, and he would send out his army. Linda Sue Park's first picture book for Clarion is about Sang-hee, son of the village firekeeper. When his father is unable t ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published March 22nd 2004 by Clarion Books
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Feb 23, 2012 L12_Robyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-fic
The Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park is about a little boy living in Korea during the 1800’s. Sang-hee (the protagonist) watches his Dad light the fire that will let the King know that they are safe from intruders. If the fire does not get lit, then the King would send out the soldiers to save the people from harm. One night, Sang-hee’s father is hurt and can’t light the fire. Therefore, it is up to Sang-hee to take on the responsibility of lighting the fire to communicate with the King’s sold ...more
Jul 18, 2010 Kathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-american
The Fire Keeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park
Illustrated by Julie Downing
37p Published by Clarion Books 2004

This story is set in Korea in the 1800’s. Although the main character Sang-Hee is fictional, the bonfire system in Korea was real. In this story each day at sunset, Sang-Hee’s father must climb the mountain to light a fire, which tells the next firekeeper on the next mountain to light his fire. This pattern continues until all the fires are lit in the province. The king could then tell by th
Emily Hynes
Feb 26, 2013 Emily Hynes rated it really liked it
I listened to this book as an audiobook accompanied by the picture book.

Taking place in early 1800 Korea, Sang-hee's father has the important job of watching the shoreline and lighting a fire on the mountaintop to signal to neighboring areas that the land is safe from invaders. He learns that on mountaintops across the land fires are lit to send the message of peace to the king and his soldiers. When Sang-hee discovers that the fire is not lit and his father has become injured, he must decide w
May 25, 2012 Jill rated it liked it
This is a story set in the early 1800s in Korea about a young boy, Sang-hee, and the lesson he learns about growing up. Sang-hee’s father plays a critical role in their Korean village near the sea; he is a Firekeeper. Each night, he climbs a mountain and lights a flame to let the next Firekeeper in the chain know there is no danger (such as enemy forces) coming in from the sea. The chain of bonfires eventually reaches the King’s palace. If the King sees the fires, he knows all is well, whereas i ...more
Oct 02, 2013 Kelsey rated it liked it
Shelves: k-3
The Firekeeper's Son, by Linda Sue Park, is an enchanting tale about a young boy named Sang-Hee who lived in a very important Korean village in the 1800s. Everyday, the boy's father would light a fire to let the emperor know that all was well in the land, but one day there was trouble on the mountain. Would Sang-Hee save the day before angry soldiers made their way to his small village?

I think this book would be suitable for grades k-3. The beautiful, watercolor illustrations depict what it was
Oct 20, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
The Firekeeper's Son by Linda Sue Park is an amazing example of historical fiction. This story is about a young boy in a village in Korea. His father tells him that they are in a very important village but Sang-hee cannot tell why that might be. His father shows him that every night he lights a fire on top of their mountain and made it so big that the fire could be seen from the next mountain in the next village over. Then the second village lit their fire so that the third village could see it, ...more
Jan 13, 2011 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-american
Set in the early 1800's, The Firekeeper's Son tells the story of Sang-hee, a young Korean boy, who must help his father light the fires that signal all is well. If the fires are not lit the soldiers will come. Sang-hee would like to see the brave soldiers. He is faced with whether he should do the right thing or not.

Park describes the peninsula that Sang-hee and his family live on. The huts that they live in are made of wood and mud. The mountains look like the humps of a dragon. We take from t
This book reminds me a lot of Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie. In each book,a child is called upon in an emergency to do a job the parent normally does but cannot do this time. Both young people showed courage, but Abbie, unlike Sang-hee, had no doubts as to what she will try to do and is determined to succeed from the beginning. Sang-hee almost wishes the fire would not light so that he could see the soldiers who will come if the signal fire is not lit. He daydreams and thinks of how he will exp ...more
Barb Middleton
Sang-hee lives in a quiet village where not much seems to happen. Every night his father scans the sea for enemy ships and if the coast is clear he lights a fire on the mountain. Another person on a nearby mountain does the same thing and the pattern continues until roughly 8 bonfires are lit and they reach the King's palace letting him know that the land is safe from enemies. One night it looks like the fire is not going to be lit. Sang-hee's mom knows the coast is free of enemies and thinks so ...more
Apr 28, 2009 Amy added it
The Firekeepers son is a story about a young boy in Korea who is needed to help the land he lives in. Sang-Hee was the son of the Firekeeper. The Firekeepers job was to light a fire on top of the highest mountain every night. He would have to light a fire big enough for the next town to see so they could light there fire. The reason they did this is because all the fires would be lit until the final fire that the king would see let him know all was well in the land. If the fire did not make it t ...more
(NS)Jennifer Reiner
Oct 27, 2009 (NS)Jennifer Reiner rated it really liked it
This story is set in 19th-century Korea. It is based upon an actual bonfire signal system. Each night, when Sang-hee's father sees that the ocean is free of enemies he signals to the King. He does this by climbing the mountain to light his fire. The fire will travel to the peak closest to the palace and this will notify the King that everything is alright. Sang-hee has to do this alone when his father breaks his ankle. He goes into the darkness with a bucket of burning coals. The boy stops for a ...more
Oct 03, 2013 Megan rated it liked it
Shelves: eng-261
The main reason why I picked up this book in the first place is because I have an international student from South Korea as my roommate this year. I am constantly trying to find information about her culture, as well as talking to her about how our cultures similar and different. When I picked up this book and saw that it was based in Korea, I thought it would be an excellent way to read a children's perspective on other cultures, and this book did just that. I was so pleased with how the author ...more
Apr 11, 2015 Paola rated it it was amazing
This book is based on a true story about a tradition in Korea. The story is about a boy whose father was in charge of lighting the fire every day at the top of the mountain, this boy accompany his father every night to help him. The fire represents that there is peace at the village and everything is alright, is a message to the king so he can help a village if they have a problem. One day the fire was not lighted up at the time it was supposed to, the boy got worried and went on grabbed everyth ...more
It's the time of year for traditions, and while this is a "needed" one, tradition it is from the country of Korea. Lighting a fire on the highest peak is what Sang-hee's father does each night, proclaiming that all is well in his village by the sea. When the next mountain's fire keeper sees that fire, he lights his own, on mountains until the king sees the final fire and knows no enemy is coming to attack. Linda Sue Park has fictionalized the history by telling of a young boy who must go to his ...more
Type: historical fiction/picture book/ fiction
Summary: This book is about a young boy who lives in a village and talks about how his father says this village is very important. The boy doesn't know at first until later on he understands the importance of this village. Each night his father goes up and lights the fire which creates a chain reaction with the other villages ahead. This lets the emperor know that everyone is safe and is not under attack.
I would use this book to introduce to the stud
Nov 01, 2008 Tracy rated it really liked it
CIP Summary: "In early-19th-century Korea, after Sang-hee's father injures his ankle, Sang-hee attempts to take over the task of lighting the evening fire, which signals to the palace that all is well."

Beautifully written and illustrated picture book from Linda Sue Park. After just finishing A Single Shard, I enjoyed reading this book by the same author. The story is one I have heard about before, but I like that it is narrated from the boy's point of view. The author was able to show how the bo
Jan 30, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Dreamy watercolors tell this Korean tale set in the early 1800s. A young boy is in awe of his father's job as a firekeeper. Every evening he heads to the top of their town's mountain to light a special signal fire which lets the king know that their town is safe and out of harms way. One evening, Sang-hee waits for a fire that doesn't come and he must take his fathers place. For a moment, he ponders whether or not to light the fire and the consequences of that choice. Any young boy would love to ...more
This book would give students insight into how some cultures prevent danger from entering their lands. Although the boy in the story was not a real person, the method of lighting fires on four mountains is accurate because it was used in Korea. In addition to providing information to students about a different culture, students will also learn the importance of being loyal to your family. When the boy's father injures himself and cannot make it to the top of the mountain to light the fire, Sang- ...more
Debbie Hayes-miller
Nov 04, 2008 Debbie Hayes-miller rated it really liked it
CIP summary: "In early 19th century Korea, after Sang-hee's father injures his ankle, Sang-hee attempts to take over the task of lighting the evening fire, which signals to the palace that all is well."

This is a great companion book to A Single Shard by the same author. I had no idea about the history behind this story. It is really interesting to learn that this village in the hills would light fires on all the mountain tops to tell the palace that there is no danger. If no fires were lit, then
Jun 10, 2012 Elaine rated it liked it
Fairy tale like story based on the historical fact that bonfires were lit as a signal system in Korea in the early 1800's.(Not known when they were first used.) Fires were lit on one mountain hump and the next seeing it would light theirs, all the distance to the king's palace so he was assured every night that all was well.
It was a complicated system and still used in late 19th century. messages by this means could also relate which province (of eight) was being attacked and the size of the ene
Brenna Brooks-larson
Mar 29, 2011 Brenna Brooks-larson rated it really liked it
Shelves: k-3-books
This is a great historical fiction book for kids. Can be used with a unit on Asia. It is about a kid named Sang-Hee who has to be brave and do his father's job when his father falls and hurts his ankle. He now has to light the bonfire on top of the hill to signal to the king that their town is not in danger every night. This is is based on true events that actually happened in Korea. Kids will be fascinated by this ancient communication form.
Beth Schencker
Jun 07, 2013 Beth Schencker rated it really liked it
Interesting true story about the lighting of the bonfires each night in Korea. When Sang-he’s father is unable to light the fire on the mountain to tell the land that all was peaceful, he is forced to make a decision. Should he light the fire or let the mountain remain dark, which might bring the soldiers he so desperately want to see. After choosing the right path, his father reminds him their job, as guard is just as important to the country as the soldiers he admires.
This book includes historical notes about Korea.Sang-Hee's father climbs a mountain each evening to light a fire that signals the firekeeper on the next mountain, who signals the next firekeeper and so on. When the king inthe palace is able to see the fire on the nearest peak, that means there is trouble; and the king will send soldiers. Set in Korea inthe early 1800's, this story tells of a young boy's moment of decision.
I love this story. The Firekeeper's Son is a story about a young boy, the son of his village's Firekeeper, whose job is to light the nightly fire on the mountain top to get the messages to the king that all is well in his kingdom. But one night his father's fire does not light and the boy must take the responsibility of lighting the fire into his own hands. It's a great story of overcoming his fantasy of seeing warriors and learning the value of peace.
Karina Espinales
Aug 22, 2012 Karina Espinales rated it really liked it
This is a great story to use for students that are from Korea to see if they can make a connection. It is a fiction book. It explains the story about how the people had to put a fire every night to show the king that there is no danger. At the end of the story, the child must take the responsibility to light the fire. It is a great book to show that sometimes a child can take a big responsibility.
(NS) Dana
Sep 26, 2009 (NS) Dana rated it it was ok
Sang-hee has watched his father climb to the top of the mountain and light a fire every night. The fire signals to the next mountain to light their fire, and so on. Once the king has seen the fire he knows that his land is safe. Sang-hee know that when no fires are lit there is trouble and soldiers will be send by the king. Soliders are something this boy wishes to see, even though that means trouble is around.
Feb 22, 2011 Rebecca rated it really liked it
This book will be a choice to read when talking about different histories in another country. The main character has a job of keeping the fire to let the others know that there is no intruders. This will be a book to talk about how the world has changed with technology. The teacher can make a list of what people used to do when there was no technology.
May 09, 2010 Claire rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: families, classrooms
In the old days Korea sent messages to the king by lighting signal fires on the mountaintops. The young son of a Korean firekeeper must rise to the challenge of doing what would be exciting and fun or what is truly required of a firekeeper one night when his father is hurt and cannot walk to the mountain top. Nice little tale of self control and responsibility.
Kristie Oke
Apr 14, 2012 Kristie Oke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This story outlines the importance of the Firekeepers in Korea. It respectfully acknowledges the bonfire signal system and the importance of lighting the flame. The illustrations are rich and beautiful. They help in sparking the imagination and pulling the reader into Sang-hee's story. This book would be a window into culture or ways of communication.
Jenilyn Willis
This book was about the bonfire signal system that was used in Korea many years ago. This would be an interesting book to read to children because I'm sure that most of them wouldn't know about the bonfire signal system, so it would be something to introduce to them. It also has nice illustrations and a good story as well.
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Linda Sue Park is a Korean American author of children's fiction. Park published her first novel, Seesaw Girl, in 1999. To date, she has written six children’s novels and five picture books for younger readers. Park’s work achieved prominence when she received the prestigious 2002 Newbery Medal for her novel A Single Shard.

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