Wednesday, September 18, 2013
What We're Reading Wednesday: the 2005 Newbery winner was....
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata is the story of a Japanese family in Georgia in the 1950s. Kira-Kira is a very sad book, which isn't a bad thing. It's the story of young Katie, her older, smarter sister, Lynn, their parents who work in a chicken factory, a movement to unionize the workers, racism, acceptance, hard-work, and grief.
I don't want to give away too much.
Some things parents should be aware of:
When camping with her aunt and uncle, young Katie learns from her cousins that Aunt and Uncle are trying to make a baby. Lynn had told her never to go in their parents' bedroom when her parents were making her little brother. Her sister did NOT tell her not to listen at the door. As a result, Katie knows that making a baby is a lot of hard work.
When Lynn finally makes some (white) friends at school, she also starts liking a boy named Gregg. On another camping trip, Lynn and her friend makes sure they are camping near Gregg and his friend. The older girls sneak out to see the boys and Katie learns about French kissing, which she finds gross.
Katie and Lynn's mother works long hours in a chicken factory where the workers are not allowed to take bathroom breaks. Their mother has to wear a special pad instead, and sometimes in cases of emergency, she does not have time to change it or remove it before going to the hospital. It is interesting to see who treats her differently because of the smell, and who pretends not to notice.
While Katie and her family appear to not practice any religion, Katie's uncle teaches her the Buddhist methods of dealing with loss by making an altar to the deceased and letting their spirit go after a prescribed number of days.
Kira-Kira is a beautiful story of love and loss. I am not surprised it won the Newbery in 2005. It is definitely a work of art. I would guess this book is appropriate for ages 10 and up.