Sunday, July 20, 2008


1. Bibliography: Kadohata, Cynthia (2004). Kira-kira. New York, NY: Aladdin .
Genre and Awards:
Young Adult/Japanese American
Newberry Award Winner
Katie and Lynn are sisters, and best friends. Their family moves from Iowa to Georgia in order for her parents to find jobs after their Asian grocery store fails. In Georgia they are treated like freaks—no one understands if they are black or white, and no one wants to accept them, but at least they have each other. When Lynn gets sick, Katie is forced to deal with her sister’s illness, poverty and ostracism all by herself.

4. Characters:
Katie is the main character. She matures throughout this novel, beginning when she is five years old until she is around 12. The novel also incorporates Lynn’s voice through diary entries. Katie and Lynn share a unique relationship, but the novel explores honestly dealing with a sibling who is ill. Katie explores her feelings of fear, anger and sadness in a way that is real and relatable.

5. Plot:
When Katie’s family moves to Georgia from Iowa, they are plunged into poverty and racism. Kira-kira means glittering in Japanese, and Katie’s older sister, Lynn is always finding kira-kira in everything. This book is about Katie’s journey through desolation to figure out the true theme of her life and her relationship with her family, especially her sister.

6. Needs of adolescents:
This book would connect with girls who are trying to figure out where they belong. It would also be good for anyone who is experiencing death or the illness of someone close to them. I also think the book deals with class issues and cultural issues that many people may not even be aware of.

7. Possible Classroom Uses:
I think this book would be a great introduction into cultural stories, like The Pearl. I also think it would be interesting to explore language, for example, “kira-kira” means glittering or shining, but Katie and Lynn use it to describe many things that their mother doesn’t agree with. This could open up many avenues about words and meanings, phrases, different cultural language, figurative language and many other concepts that are swirling in my brain right now! I think this could work as a real-aloud, class novel, reading group or independent recommendation.

8. Appropriate Age Range
Middle and junior high students would really enjoy this book.

9. Personal Reactions:
I liked this book because it is really the first “girl” book I have attempted. While I usually like more action, this book was moving. The realistic look at illness and grief was particularly touching. I liked the fact that Katie was not afraid to admit her feelings, and I think a lot of kids can identify with feeling one thing when they know they should be feeling something else.


Brian Lee said...

The fact that this is a "girl" book aside, I think that anytime a novel honestly deals with the grief surrounding illness in the family it is a invaluable read for adolescents. Everyone must deal with this topic, and it is beneficial to have a proxy experience via literature before getting hit with reality. I like the jump to "The Pearl" as well. It seems that needs addressed in both works speak to one another. Also, Steinbeck is a literary monster and getting kids to read his work is essential. Thanks for an insightful review.


dingo47 said...

HI MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Julia said...

Thanks for another fabulous book suggestion. I like that this book focuses on topics that anyone might deal with. Illness in the family or of someone close is a very real issue. On top of this very universal issue there are the issues of difference and acceptance. While these are also universal, I like that it is approached on a multi-cultural level. As much as people want to deny it, this is still a big issue in our country.