Kira-Kira

I would never have chosen this book. So it’s a good thing the Resident IT Consultant discovered this new branch of Oxfam bookshops in Bloomsbury, just as he had a pressing need to buy Christmas presents. Cynthia Kadohata’s Kira-Kira became mine. It’s a Newbery medal winning book from a few years ago, about two Japanese sisters growing up in 1950s Georgia.

Why do we read so few American children’s books here in Britain? I feel incredibly ignorant as I struggle to come up with more than a few examples of good writers. They must exist, surely?

Anyway, the cover is boring and with an odd title as well, it would never have been picked by the bookwitch, who’s a fool and should know better. It’s an absolutely wonderful book, about childhood innocense and hardship and illness. Last year I read a Canadian writer on a similar subject, retro childhood kind of thing, which I really didn’t like at all. But Kira-Kira felt just right. I’d never considered the Japanese in America, so it was interesting to learn about them too. Curiously, the descriptions of the factory in Kira-Kira reminds me of several of Sara Paretsky’s books. Something about American factories, maybe?

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11 responses to “Kira-Kira

  1. A wonderful American book is ab0ut to be published over here…may indeed already be published. It’s called KING DORK and it’s by Frank Portman and Puffin are bringing it out. Or have already brought it out…DO NOT MISS!

  2. They do they do. Though I’m right out of date. Writers who may be forgotten like Natalie Babbett and E.J. Konigsberg and Jane Langdon. Oh – and isn’t Meg Rosoff American?

  3. Sorry to come again: Betsy Byars. Robert Cormier (whose books I loathe, incidentally, but he’s admired by many.) And of course Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, What Katy Did, the classics, much loved by me, as a child.

  4. There’s lots of good American stuff, and Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light, which is excellent, even won the Carnegie a while back. If you are interested in keeping an eye on American children’s and YA lit, there are some comprehensive blogs, and I can send you a list if you like. In addition, I recommend joining the Yahoo group Adbooks, which includes teachers, librarians, writers, bloggers, and others interested in YA lit. There’s lively discussion of the title of the month, plus lots of others. Here’s the link:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/adbooks/

  5. GrannyP, why do you loathe Cormier?

    ANd sorry for the weird italics above, I must have made a mistake with my html.

  6. Sorry, Bookwitch, to carry on a discussion on your site – but….Lee, it’s a long time since I read Cormier, let alone reviewed him, so I’m scratching at memory; but I think my loathing related to a kind of gratuitous and unrelieved darkness/violence/depression; almost pathological. Quite unfair maybe, but it was a gut reaction. Dredging even deeper, and still more vaguely, it occurs to me the same thing might be said of Paul Zindel. But I found him (I think) a better and more varied writer. Both of them I read because I was asked to, not because I’d choose to; not like Jennifer Donnelly whom I’d read for pleasure, any time. Thanks for reminding me – and Bookwitch – about that.

  7. Wow, ladies, keep this up. The library is struggling with its computers and so am I. Back on Sunday.

  8. Thanks Adele, I must get round to reading that copy of King Dork that has been lying around for a while. I thought it looked promising, but lack of time…

  9. When I asked about American writers I should have said new/current ones. Say the Philip Pullman or Melvin Burgess of America. The classics are always good, on both sides of the Atlantic, but I was wanting fresh and good. Having said that, I know some that are coming soon, so shall report back.

    And I sort of count Meg as a British writer, because that’s where her books are coming from.

  10. Oooh, controversial! Sorry I didn’t join in on this one but was off in Australia working like a slave!
    Don’t really count myself as either British or American. Kind of ambi-cultural.
    And add Melina Marchetta (Saving Francesca) to the list. Also David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy). Oh, and the sadly, recently deceased Lloyd Alexander, who’s one of my all time favourites. Gotta run or would go on all day!

  11. Oops, Meg. Probably should have said the talent is American and the style, but subject matter more British?

    Thanks for the suggestions. My list is getting longer, and when will I read it all?

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