A long, long time ago, planet Earth was born.
Planet Earth was very, very hot.
Lava gushed out of the ground—
Here, there, and everywhere—creating vapor.
Since lava is heavy,
It flowed down, down, down.
And since vapor is light,
It floated up, up, up,
Turning into clouds in the sky
So starts The Three Water Drop Brothers, a charming, surprisingly complete look at the history and science of the water cycle for young readers age 4-9. Using simple, direct language and boldly colored block-cut illustrations, the award-winning team of Lee Eun-Hee and Yun Mi-Sook* depict the story of three drops of water—the three brothers of the title—in a manner reminiscent of a traditional fable.
The oldest brother water drop rises into the sky as vapor, joins a cloud, and travels to become a glacier that then melts into the sea. The middle brother sinks underground into the earth, eroding a rock and traveling to a river, which feeds into the ocean. The youngest brother, “who was also shy,” doesn’t know what to do at first and lets the waves toss him around for a while. Eventually he gets sucked up by a plant root, eaten by a cow and turned into milk, and drunk by a child and turned into pee (of course!), after which he goes underground, joins a river and reaches the ocean, just like his two older brothers.
Is that the end of the story? Not at all:
“But their adventures were far from over. In fact, they had just begun! Taking different forms and traveling in different ways, they will continue to explore the world. Because that is exactly what water drops like to do!”
Via these three anthropomorphic drops, The Three Water Drop Brothers skillfully describes the water cycle in a way that the youngest reader will understand and adults will equally enjoy. And who knows? The book is so enticing that budding scientists may arise from amongst its readers—creating another kind of cycle!
*Lee Eun-Hee won South Korea’s Science and Technology Book Award in 2003 and Yun Mi-Sook was the first Korean illustrator to win the Bologna Ragazzi Award in 2004.
The Three Water Drop Brothers
Written by Lee Eun-Hee.
Illustrated by Yun Mi-Sook
Translated from the Korean by Asuka Minamoto
Enchanted Lion, 2021
Reviews: Publishers Weekly; Kirkus
Review copy kindly provided by the publisher.
You can buy a copy* or find it in a library.
*Book purchases made via our affiliate link may earn GLLI a small commission at no cost to you.
Award-winning opera singer Nanette McGuinness is the translator of 80 books and graphic novels for children and adults from French, Italian, German and Spanish into English, including the well-known Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels. Two of her translations, Luisa: Now and Then and California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas were chosen for YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens; Luisa: Now and Then was also a 2019 Stonewall Honor Book. Her recent translations include Makhno: Ukrainian Freedom Fighter (the publisher is donating part of the proceeds to the Ukrainian war relief effort); Rosa Parks; Magical History Tour: Vikings; Magical History Tour: The Plague, Bibi & Miyu#2, LGBTQ YA manga Alter Ego, and the critically acclaimed A House Without Windows.