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Dia's Story Cloth: The Hmong People's Journey of Freedom Paperback – April 1, 1996


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Dia's Story Cloth: The Hmong People's Journey of Freedom + The Whispering Cloth: A Refugee's Story + Jouanah: A Hmong Cinderella
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1050L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Reprint edition (April 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880000636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880000632
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.4 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A folk art masterpiece from a Southeast Asian culture stands at the center of this thoughtful book. Intricately composed, painstakingly stitched by hand, the "story cloth" of the title was created by the author's aunt and uncle, Hmong who fled their native Laos for a refugee camp in Thailand. The story cloth records their experiences-which are also the author's own. Using details from the cloth as illustrations, Cha retells her life story, a meeting of Hmong history and a classic American immigration tale. Now an anthropologist in Colorado, Cha spent her early years during the 1960s in a Hmong village in Laos, where her family worked long days growing rice and corn. War tore the country apart; Cha's father was killed and she and her mother made a dangerous escape to Thailand, emigrating to the United States in 1979. The text is subdued; it is the needlework that drives home the poignancy of this cataclysmic account. For advanced readers, a lengthy afterword, by Joyce Herold, Denver Museum of Natural History's curator of ethnology, sets out historical background and assesses the story cloth as an art form. Ages 6-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 3^-5. Based on a traditional Hmong story cloth, this picture book depicts the story of the author's family. It begins with their ancestors leaving China to settle in Laos and goes on to describe traditional Laotian life; the war between the loyalists and the Communists; the capture of Cha's father, and the remaining family's flight; their years in a refugee camp in Thailand; and finally, their immigration to the U.S. The colorful embroidered pictures illustrating the story are segments of a much larger story cloth, which appears in full on a double-page spread. Extensive notes describe the history and ways of the Hmong people and how their art, combining needlework and storytelling, continues in U.S. An unusual introduction to the Hmong. Carolyn Phelan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 2000
Format: School & Library Binding
If you are an elememtary or middle scool teacher with a population of Hmong children, or if you are looking for literature that treats a "difficult" subject in a sensitive way this book is for you. It is beautifully illustrated, with pictures of a Hmong story cloth and the story is written by a Hmong woman. It is one of those picture books that makes wonderful reading and viewing for adults as well as children. Top notch!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By an elementary school teacher on May 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite children's books. It tells the story of the Hmong people through the eyes of a child who lived in Laos during the Vietnam War, lost her father, escaped to Thailand and eventually came to America as a refugee. One of my third grade Hmong students declared it "THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ! " I would have to agree.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jai yen on December 16, 2012
Format: School & Library Binding
... from China over Laos to the refugee camps of Thailand and then to the U.S. of America.
Where the Hmong - almost an entire generation had to flee from the consequences of the "Secret War" that took place in Laos - build solid, self-sustaining and heavily working groups of immigrates...

Yet in the 1950s the Hmong were forced to take sides in the guerrilla warfare, divided between their loyalty to the Royal Lao government backed by the USA and the Communist Pathet Lao nationalists, supported by Northern Vietnam and the USSR. Thousands of Hmong men and boys were recruited by the CIA for rescue and reconnaissance and other secret guerilla tasks.
Then the Pathet Lao invaded their territory while the CIA bombed their villages to leave behind only burned ground. Then, in 1975 the Pathet Lao took over and the Hmong had to flee.
A book which masterly describes some poor Hmong's getaway is Curse of the Pogo Stick: A Dr. Siri Investigation Set in Laos by Colin Cotterill when our dear Dr Siri is held hostage by a group of Hmong women and children...

What I am reviewing here is the book of Dia Cha's Story Cloth, stitched by Chue and Nhia Thao Cha, full of colourful fotos.
Masterly - like every Hmong story cloth - it is hand-embroidered. No patterns are used, no measurements an taken. The needlework is done by eye, and comes out perfectly every time.
So look at the picture right on the double page in the middle of the book:
You will see Hmong People dressed in their traditional black robes coming from China going to Burma and to Laos to arrive in Thailand, partly in Refugee camps.
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