kira-kira (kee'ra kee'ra): glittering; shining This is Katie Takeshima's first word, taught to her by big sister Lynn. Lynn is the person who can always make things glitter, even when the family is forced to move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the less welcoming Deep South of Georgia. As a member of one of the seven Japanese families in a ...Read Morekira-kira (kee'ra kee'ra): glittering; shining This is Katie Takeshima's first word, taught to her by big sister Lynn. Lynn is the person who can always make things glitter, even when the family is forced to move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the less welcoming Deep South of Georgia. As a member of one of the seven Japanese families in a large town, Katie is initially friendless, attracting stares on the street. But she is too busy having fun with her sister to take notice - Lynn reads to her, and explains the important things in life with an unquenchable sense of optimism. When Lynn becomes seriously ill, she is slowly sapped of her vital energy, rendering it Katie's responsibility to make things 'kira-kira'. From stealing a bottle of pink nail varnish for her sister to trying harder at school, she finds ways to keep hope alive, even as Lynn's health deteriorates further. This is a truly inspirational story, told with humour and subtlety.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 2004-02-09 Set in the 1950s and '60s, Kadohata's moving first novel is narrated by a first-generation Japanese-American girl who moves with her family from Iowa to Georgia when their "Oriental foods grocery store" goes out of business. There, Katie and her family face hardships, including discrimination (she is ignored by the girls at school, for example), and the harsh conditions at the poultry plant where her mother works ("thugs" make sure workers do not gather so that they cannot organize). Katie's father often sleeps at the hatchery between shifts, and when their babysitter goes away, Katie and her brother must stay in the hot car outside the plant while their mother works. But it's her doting older sister Lynn's struggle with lymphoma that really tests her family. Katie's narrative begins almost as stream-of-consciousness, reflecting a younger child's way of seeing the world. But as she matures through the challenges her family faces, so does the prose. Kadohata movingly captures the family's sustaining love-Lynn and Katie secretly save their treat money for years so they can help their parents buy a house, and when ailing Lynn gets to pick the house, she chooses a sky blue one, because Katie as a "little girl,... had told her [she] wanted our first to be sky blue." The family's devotion to one another, and Lynn's ability to teach Katie to appreciate the "kira-kira," or glittering, in everyday life makes this novel shine. Ages 11-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-01-08 PW starred this Newbery winner, which is set in the 1950s and '60s and is narrated by a first-generation Japanese-American girl, saying, "The family's devotion to one another, and one sister's ability to teach her younger sister to appreciate the `kira-kira,' or glittering, in everyday life make this novel shine." Ages 10-14. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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