Thursday, May 19, 2011


Since I just finished Criss-Cross I decided to stick with the theme of alliterative titles and read Cynthia Kadohata's kira-kira.Warning: this book is sad!  I mean have a box of tissues next to you, melancholy mood all the way through sad.  It is the story of a Japanese-American family living in Georgia all from the viewpoint of the middle child (and youngest daughter) Katie.  It is the story of the bonds of sisterhood, the sacrifices made by immigrants, sickness, and the strength of family.

Be sure to read this book if for no other reason but to discover the meaning of kira-kira.  Ok I can't keep it form you I have to talk about it because it's just such a neat concept.  It means glittering in Japanese but Katie and her sister Lynn have interpreted it to mean so much more.  It's colors that are deep but see through at the same time, like the sky, the ocean, and people's eyes.  I just love that. 

I won't say too much more because I don't want to give anything away but I will take a second to mention some of my favorite parts.  Katie has a stuffed animal named Bera-Bera (confession: I loved stuffed animals as a child and may or may not still posses my two most favorite-they live in my closet until I need a little childhood comfort).  On the night before the family moves Katie can't find Bera-Bera because he was packed in one of the boxes.  Kaite cries to her mother because she cannot sleep without Bera-Bear.  Her mother replies, "someday you won't even remember Bera-Beara.' She said this gently, and as if the thought made her a little sad.  The thought made me a little sad too" (18-19).  I love Katie's reflective nature and they way Kadohata weaves Katie's pondering's into the narrative. 

My absolute favorite parts of the book showcased Katie's appreciation of childhood.  I think sometimes we are all so focused on growing up that it's great to be a kid.  For example, "I could eat any kind of candy I wanted because I still had my baby teeth.  If they rotted, I would simply grow more teeth.  That was pretty great" (34). I'm not sure if dentists would completely agree with that statement, but I think it sounds legit.

Have you ever noticed how children think everything is the greatest thing they have ever seen.  They're eyes just sparkle. I teach piano lessons to a four year old and every time he passes a song he gets a sticker.  One day I brought smelly stickers and he literally screamed in delight and ran all over the house showing all of his siblings how great the stickers were.  Katie sees this in her sister and describes it saying, "Lynn could take a simple everyday object like a box of Kleenex and use it to prove how amazing the world is" (224).  When do we stop seeing how great the world is and only see how bad it is?  When do our eyes lose that sparkle?

Sparkling eyes, proving the world is amazing, screaming with joy over something simple like a sticker...that's kids stuff.

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