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A Song for Cambodia Hardcover – March 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600601391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600601392
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A Song for Cambodia is a children's picturebook about serious matters - war, human cruelty, and the power of music to kindle hope in one's darkest hour. A simplified biography of the childhood of real-life humanitarian Arn Chorn-Pond, A Song for Cambodia tells of how Khmer Rouge soldiers murdered Arn's family and sent him to a children's work camp, where he labored for long hours on the brink of starvation. When the guards requested volunteers to play music, Arn dared to volunteer - receiving his only chance for survival. He learned to play a traditional Cambodian musical instrument, as his life literally depended upon it; his teacher and several fellow students were later executed. Music was the one thing that gave Arn hope and comfort through his trying ordeal of escape, sickness, and survival at a refugee camp. An American volunteer saved his life and adopted him; adjusting to life in America was not easy. An afterword tells of Arn's award-winning humanitarian work with survivors of war, and his efforts to reclaim and spread knowledge of Cambodian music. Though A Song for Cambodia covers somber subject matter, it does so in a tasteful and respectful fashion; the result is a high-quality picturebook strongly recommended especially for public library children's collections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book begins with the happy and relatively carefree days of Arn Chorn-Pond and his family in a rural Cambodian village, with descriptions of a thriving open-air market and the sounds of music and laughter. This way of life quickly changed for Arn when, like they did across Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge soldiers destroyed Arn's village, split up his family, and sent him to a children's labor camp.

Arn may have succumbed to the atrocious conditions at the labor camp were it not for his volunteering to join a musical group meant to entertain the guards. When Arn was sent to fight as a child soldier, he escaped to the Thai border and ultimately was adopted by a volunteer clergyman. In his new American home, Arn used his music to heal on the inside as his nightmares slowly turned into dreams of returning to Cambodia to help others who had survived the pain and suffering.

Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara take on this dark topic with skill and subtlety, yielding a story that is both insightful and moving. The book, appropriate for children who are mature enough to handle such a tough subject, ends with a hopeful tone. Similarly, the illustrations have a realistic but gentle quality. The author provides a detailed afterword about the inspiring humanitarian work that Arn Chorn-Pond has pursued in his adult years in an effort to revive Cambodia's classical arts and music. What a contribution that this man's story, which has been told in leading U.S. newspaper, radio, and television outlets, is now accessible to children in this carefully written and illustrated book.
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Format: Hardcover
Arn was a young eight-year-old boy who lived in a Cambodian village with his eleven brothers and sisters, his grandparents and of course his mother and father. It was a very happy home with lots of music and laughter. In 1975, the music seemed to stop when the Khmer Rouge ("Red Khmers") wreaked havoc across the countryside. Arn and his family became very frightened.

One day the soldiers came and brutally separated the family. Arn would never see his mother again after the family was separated to go to work camps. It was a horrible time for the children in his camp. They worked so hard, but they still were starving. "If they were lucky, the children caught dragonflies, beetles, or grubs to eat." The music in his soul might save him, but how?

This is the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond. It is heartbreaking, heartwarming and inspirational somehow all rolled into one. According to Arn, "Everyone has good and bad within them. It is up to us to decide how to live. You can literally change the world." I believe you can.
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