Sarah's Stars

Cynthia Kadohata. Kira-Kira
Atheneum  $16.95   ISBN 0-689-85639-3  244 pg.

Reviewed by
Emma, Age 14

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”.

Kira-Kira is a beautiful story about love and friendship, from the perspective of a young Japanese-American girl growing up in the 1950s. When Katie's father loses his job, their family is forced to move from their peaceful and accepting Japanese community in Iowa, to colour-divided Georgia, where they have only each other to lean on.

Cynthia Kadohata is the author of Newbery award-winning Kira-Kira, as well as The Floating World, and many short stories. She has been published in The New Yorker, Grand Street Magazine, and Ploughshares, and writes from her home in LA. I recommend Kira-Kira to kids age 8-16. Read it outside in the sun.

This book is very simple and real. It is about the pure, unconditional love of one family, and their small support group of cousins and neighbours. Together they face real challenges and overcome them. As Katie grows, she matures as a character - sandwiched between her siblings - protecting and being protected, independent but totally dependant on their love.

Five stars go to Kira-Kira, for a world of unwavering trust and strength, and the sweet-as-rice-candy, obliviously naive, and utterly kira-kira, Katie.

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