Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

This book won the Newbery Award, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Kira-kira means glittering in Japanese, and that's how Katie's sister, Lynn, sees the world. She sees beauty in everything and uses her imagination to create beauty. Katie's Japanese family moves from Iowa to Georgia where they experience some of the racism during that time in history. The only jobs available to her parents are working in a hatchery. The plot follows Katie as she grows into adolescence and the special bond she shares with Lynn. Baby Sam comes along, and Katie becomes the big sister he looks up to. However, Lynn starts to feel tired quite often and is forced to stay in bed for many days at a time. It becomes evident that her illness is more serious than a special diet and pills can cure.

The author does a nice job of sharing the many conflicts in Katie's life. She is forced to deal with Lynn's illness and becomes frustrated and angry with her sister for not getting better. Her parents slowly lose enthusiasm for life as they spend all of their time working to get by and Lynn becomes sicker. Mother is overly protective, but Katie manages to experience the Southern culture through trips to the factory, drives with her father, and a picnic with her sister. The plot is more about character development than action, but there are still times of tension as the events unfold.

Lexile level from 740

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