Friday, May 18, 2012

Kira-Kira, Cynthia Kadohata

My sister, Lynn, taught me my first word: kira-kira. I pronounced it ka-a-ahhh, but she knew what I meant. Kira-kira means "glittering" in Japanese. Lynn told me that when I was a baby, she used to take me onto our empty road at night, where we would lie on our backs and look at the stars while she said over and over, "Katie, say 'kira-kira, kira-kira.'" I loved that word! When I grew older, I used kira-kira to describe everything I liked: the beautiful blue sky, puppies, kittens, butterflies, colored Kleenex.

I realize that I should have read this book a long time ago, but I just never got around to it. Kira-Kira won the Newbery Award. Kira-Kira tells of Katie Takeshima, who looks up to her older sister, Lynn, who makes everything seem "kira-kira." When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa, to Georgia, Lynn explains to her why people stare at them.  But then Lynn becomes very ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart. It's up to Katie to help them remember that there is also kira-kira in the future.

I really loved the way that Kadohata weaved that one Japanese term, kira-kira, into the story. It was a central part, being so important to the main character and giving her hope. Despite their not-so-great living conditions in Georgia, the Takeshima family always manages to survive. The ending was bittersweet, sad but good.

Read Kira-Kira:

  • if you like books about Japanese immigrants
  • if you are looking for a middle-grade fiction book
  • if you like books that talk illness
  • if you want to read a Newbery Award winner
244 pages.

Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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