Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Spotlight on Cynthia Kadohata

Cynthia Kadohata

Born: Chicago, 1956
Education: BA in journalism from the University of Southern California
Books: The Floating World, 1989 (adult); In The Heart of the Valley of Love, 1992 (adult); Kira-Kira, 2004 (young adult); Weedflower, 2006 (young adult), Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam, 2007 (young adult).

Honors for Kira-Kira:
Winner of the 2005 Newbery Medal
Selection of Junior Library Guild
ALA Notable Children's Books
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Award Winner
Blue Spruce YA Book Award Nominee (CO)
Booklinks Lasting Connections
Booklist Editors' Choice
Capitol Choices List (DC)
CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children's Book Council)
Charlotte Award Suggested Reading List (NY)
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Master List (VT)
Garden State Teen Book Award Nominee (NJ)
Kiriyama Prize Notable Book
KSRC Middle School Titles - Top Pick
Librarians' Choices 2004
Nene Award Master List (HI)
NYPL "Books for the Teen Age"
Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Choice Award Master List
Thumbs Up! Award Master List (MI)

Official website:

Interview with Cynthia Kadohata: Cynsations: Quirky, thoughtful, angsty, joyous musings on all things life and book from a writer who finds her heroes in the sunshine and in the shadows written by Cynthia Leitech Smith

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Told with humor and honesty, KIRA-KIRA is narrated by Katie Takeshima and tells the story of one Japanese-American family's experiences in the fifties and sixties. The novel shares the family's experiences with poverty, prejudice, illness, and death as Katie's older sister is diagnosed with a terminal illness and slowly deteriorates before her family's eyes. It is both painfully poignant and honest and at times laugh out loud funny. The strength of Kira-Kira is the growth of the narrator Katie who ages from four to twelve during the course of the novel. As Katie experiences life's harshness from prejudice to poverty to being the victim of school bullies and teasing, her narrative changes. Her relationship with her sister also changes over time. As a child, she absolutely idolized her sister. She literally believed every word her sister told her. As the sisters grow up, however, Katie learns that things can't stay the same. Suddenly, her sister becomes more interested in spending time with friends her own age and even more shocking to Katie boys. Her sister no longer has time to play games with her; her interests have changed. It is about this time in her life, that Lynn becomes sick and slowly weakens and dies. Her sister's death leaves a hole in her life and Katie is unsure of how to cope with all the changes and losses in her life. The novel is one of strength and hope despite its sadness.

Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

Cynthia Kadohata's first novel, Kira-Kira, was an impressive book. And Weedflower is equally impressive. This time the novel is set in the Southwest before and during World War II. Sumiko is a typically happy twelve-year old. While she feels awkward that she's the only Japanese-American in her class at school, she has not yet felt the harsh stings of discrimination...until a vicious birthday party. Soon after, I believe the same weekend, Pearl Harbor is bombed. Her normal life vanishes, no more more social life...only fear and anxiety as they wait to see what will become of them all.

It is a very heart-felt story of one girl's experiences in a Japanese-American internment camp. Definitely recommend it to everyone!

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