Prewar Cambodia offered an almost idyllic boyhood to Arn Chorn, but the Khmer Rouge turned his world upside down, separating him from his family and sending Arn to a work camp. He survived the camp by learning to play the khim, a traditional Cambodian instrument. Sent to fight the Vietnamese, Arn fled to the jungle, fell ill, woke up in a refugee camp, nearly drowned in a flood, and was rescued and brought to the U.S. by Reverend Peter Pond, who adopted him. Through music, Arn slowly adjusted to his new country but promised to return to Cambodia. An afterword describes his subsequent efforts to assist war survivors and revive traditional Cambodian arts and music. Filled with drama and tragedy, this picture-book biography skillfully telescopes Arn’s tumultuous boyhood. Realistic gouache illustrations depict the terrors of war but refrain from showing graphic violence. Amazing and inspiring, this biography is an excellent choice for multicultural studies. Grades 3-5. --Linda Perkins
About the Author
Michelle Lord fell in love with the culture of Cambodia when she traveled there to adopt her youngest daughter. She was inspired to write Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin after discovering the story behind Auguste Rodin's Cambodian Dancer sketches. Lord lives in New Braunfels, Texas, with her husband and their three children. Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin is her first picture book.
Shino Arihara is a full-time illustrator who was born in the United States and grew up in Japan. She felt an immediate connection to Arn Chorn-Pond's story because a close friend, and fellow artist, went through a similar experience when he lived in Cambodia. "I wanted to do this book for him," says Arihara. She lives with her husband, a musician, in Redwood City, California.