From the book jacket: Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister,
Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is
deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same
reason. And so are people's eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese
community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her
why people stop them on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special
way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn
becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to
Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering
-- kira-kira -- in the future.
Luminous in its persistence of love and hope, Kira-Kira is Cynthia Kadohata's stunning debut in middle-grade fiction.
Comment: Kadohata's first novel for children and her fourth novel overall was the well deserved winner of the 2005 Newbery Medal. Although her previous novels are all ostensibly written for adults they all feature young protagonists and, as the reviewer for The Boston Globe comments, Kira-Kira could just as easily be read by a 41-year-old as a 14-year-old. In other words her books are ones that can easily cross age boundaries.
This is a heartbreaking, gorgeous book written from the point of view of young Katie, who is only 10 when her 14 year old sister falls sick and dies. The prose is clear, simple and authentic and, most importantly, is clearly touching the hearts of young readers as you can see by the reader reviews posted at BookBrowse (a sample of which are below).
It is particularly interesting to note how glowingly positive these reviews are considering that most of the reviewers read Kira-Kira as a school assignment. Over the years, I've read many thousands of reviews posted at BookBrowse, and those that have been written by students for school projects run the gamut from positive to negative, but more often than not they tend towards the vitriolic or just plain bored. As most of us probably recollect, there's nothing that takes the joy out of reading faster than being forced to read a particular book! For a case in point, take a look at the reader reviews for Founding Brothers!
A sample of the visitor reviews at BookBrowse:
"Kira-Kira was an awesome book. I read it in one day because I was so into it that I couldn't put it down! Kira-Kira reminded me so much of my sister and me when we were young. I love this book so much and I want everyone to read it." - Sarah.
"This book is a very emotional and heart-pounding. I chose to read this book from a reading list. Because of the title, I thought it would be interesting and more original than other books. As I began to read, I realized that these fictional characters could very well be real people. This book touched my heart, and made me incredibly thankful and humble to be who I am. This was an amazing book, and I would recommend it to anyone of any age." - Sara.
"It's no wonder that this book got a medal! I really hate reading! But, while reading this book I looked forward to reading a chapter every night! It was an amazing story, that made me cry! I would recommend this to any person who wants to enjoy reading in a big way! Two thumbs very high up!" - Dani.
This review is from the January 4, 2007 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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