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Kira-Kira Paperback – December 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689856407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689856402
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Cynthia Kadohata's lively, lovely, funny and sad novel -- winner of the 2005 Newbery Medal -- the Japanese-American Takeshima family moves from Iowa to Georgia in the 1950s when Katie, the narrator, is just in kindergarten. Though her parents endure grueling conditions and impossible hours in the non-unionized poultry plant and hatchery where they work, they somehow manage to create a loving, stable home for their three children: Lynn, Katie, and Sammy. Katie's trust in, and admiration for, her older sister Lynn never falters, even when her sisterly advice doesn't seem to make sense. Lynn teaches her about everything from how the sky, the ocean, and people's eyes are special to the injustice of racial prejudice. The two girls dream of buying a house for the family someday and even save $100 in candy money: "Our other favorite book was Silas Marner. We were quite capitalistic and liked the idea of Silas keeping all that gold underneath the floorboards." When Lynn develops lymphoma, it's heartbreaking, but through the course of her worsening illness, Katie does her best to remember Lynn's "kira-kira" (glittery, shining) outlook on life. Small moments shine the brightest in this poignant story; told beautifully and lyrically in Katie's fresh, honest voice. (Ages 11 to 14) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-8--Katie's first word is "kira-kira," the Japanese word for "glittering," and she uses it to describe everything she likes. It was taught to her by her older sister, Lynn, whom Katie worships. Both girls have trouble adjusting when their parents move the family from Iowa to a small town in rural Georgia, where they are among only 31 Japanese-Americans. They seldom see their parents, who have grueling jobs in chicken-processing plants. Then Lynn becomes deathly ill, and Katie is often left to care for her, a difficult and emotionally devastating job. When her sister dies of lymphoma, Katie searches for ways to live up to her legacy and to fulfill the dreams she never had a chance to attain. Told from Katie's point of view and set in the 1950s, this beautifully written story tells of a girl struggling to find her own way in a family torn by illness and horrendous work conditions. Katie's parents can barely afford to pay their daughter's medical bills, yet they refuse to join the growing movement to unionize until after Lynn's death. All of the characters are believable and well developed, especially Katie, who acts as a careful observer of everything that happens in her family, even though there is a lot she doesn't understand. Especially heartbreaking are the weeks leading up to Lynn's death, when Katie is exhausted and frustrated by the demands of her sister's illness, yet willing to do anything to make her happy. Girls will relate to and empathize with the appealing protagonist.--Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Cynthia Kadohata has lived in Chicago, Georgia, Arkansas, Michigan, Los Angeles, Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York City. She has worked as a waitress, sales clerk, typist, publicist, and secretary. She's back to Los Angeles now, probably permanently, and lives with George, her boyfriend of fifteen years; Sammy, her much-loved son; and two very funny and probably insane dogs. She has published three novels for grown-ups, and her writing has appeared in Grand Street, the Mississippi Review, The New Yorker, and Ploughshares. Her first children's novel, Kira-Kira, won the Newbery Medal in 2005. She has also published the children's books Weedflower, winner of the Pen-USA; Cracker, winner of six state awards as voted on by kids; Outside Beauty; A Million Shades of Gray; and The Thing About Luck, winner of the 2013 National Book Award. Her next novel is Half a World Away, due out September 2, 2014. Half a World Away is the tale of a troubled young boy who was adopted from Romania at age eight and whose parents are adopting a baby from Kazakhstan.

Customer Reviews

Even though I did cry it's a really good book.
Brad
I especially thought the author's take on honesty as a main theme in the book to be very well done, and a little surprising to how she addresses it in the book.
James Sparks
It was about Katie and Lynn, who were sisters, and were very close to each other.
Happy Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 117 people found the following review helpful By R, your friendly neighborhood reviewer on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm gonna take a stab in the dark and say that Cynthia Kadohata's Newbery winner "Kira-Kira" is a book that you either love or a book that you loathe to the fullest. Well, I'm a thirteen-year old and I enjoyed it to the fullest. And what really bugs me is that it is ADULT reviewers who are saying this book is too depressing for children. ADULT! Have you people ever heard of Bridge to Terabithia. It was just as depressing, if not more (though, brilliant I might add). I'm not even gonna mention last year's Olive's Ocean.

I'm a reader and fan of E. Bird's reviews, but she's got this one all wrong (well, except for maybe the bear trap part). Thank you Amazon, for letting a teen vent!

R
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74 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Debra Garfinkle on August 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read this in one day. I couldn't put it down. The writing is beautiful, the characters are likeable, and the sense of time and place are authentic. This is a wonderful story of a Japanese-American family and its struggle with prejudice, poverty, and disease. The book has humor and sadness, but ultimately it left me feeling joyous. I loved it.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By S. Maire on January 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
After reading Kira-Kira,I had found my new favourite author. Kadohata had touched both myself and a good friend of mine. My friend was in tears at the end of the book. I could understand why she wept for I too felt touched by Kadohata's book. Kadohata filled every chapter with such strong emotions and used such colourful vocabulary. Kadohata is surely one of the most amazing authors of all time.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Madisen on January 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Kira-Kira" is not like most other books; instead of a linear narrative with a clear plot, conflict, climax, and resoloution, this story reads in a more sprawling, nonlinear way. I had heard that it felt like a memoir, and this is definitely true; the first-person narrative only adds to the feeling. Yet still, as main character Katie recounts her life as a young Japanese American growing up in Georgia in the early '60s, the events along the way are at times very funny, often sad, and always captivating. The main theme is Katie's relationship with her sister Lynn, as the two girls alternately come together and drift apart, but "Kira-Kira" also touches on poverty, discrimination, and coming of age. It's a wonderful book, whether you're looking for a meaty read for younger kids or a breezy one for teens.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Kira-Kira (kee'ra kee'ra): means glittering; shining in Japanese.

Kira-Kira is a spectacular book thanks to the author, Cynthia Kadohata.

Glittering. That's how Lynn Takeshima, Katie Takeshima's older sister, always makes everything seem. The sky and how deep it is but see-through at the same time. Even peoples eyes and how they sparkle in their beautiful color. The stars and how they glisten and shine among the moon. All kira-kira. So basically, Lynn is a very calm, magical, and mellow person. Katie, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. She is a very out-going and risk-taking kind of girl, but when she gets out of hand, Lynn is always there to get her off the curb, and back on the road.

The Takeshima family went through hard times. After Lynn had died of a severe illness, the whole family had fallen apart. Katie was twelve when Lynn had died and she was very depressed for a long time. So it was up to Katie to get over her depression and remind her family and herself, that there is always something glittering- kira-kira -in the future.

All of this drama and adventure that had happened to the Takeshima family had taken place during the 1950s in the Deep South of Georgia.

Love and hope is the theme of this book. It taught you that when you have a time in your life of frustration or difficulties, you just get a good grip and hang on tight. Just never let go. That's exactly why I like, no, love this book. They just never gave up on hope.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I had read this book in 5th grade (currently in 6th) and enjoyed every bit of it. Everyone thinks this book is for teens but to me it was fine. It's true the book does get a bit depressing, still it goes at a good pace and its not boring at all. Newberys never lie, i reccomend this book for 9 up though
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239 of 318 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In many ways, the Newbery Award is my favorite kind of award out there. Some people prefer the Oscars. Others enjoy the Emmys. And even a few sad souls look forward to the National Book Awards. But the Newberys are different in a single undeniable way. Where other awards tell you ahead of time who the top nominations for the prize are, until the Newbery Award is announced anybody could win. Anyone who's written an American children's book, that is. Sometimes this yields fabulous winners that truly deserve their awards, like "Holes" by Louis Sacher (enjoyed equally by kids and adults, funny, moving, serious, ridiculous, and more). Other times, it yields books like "kira-kira". Ah, my poor "kira-kira". A perfectly fine book that will now be loathed and abhorred by countless generations of schoolchildren the world over. "kira-kira" is not bad, per say. But it brilliantly fulfills every stereotype of Newbery Award winners. It is depressing (sometimes ridiculously so), more of a teen novel than a book intended for children, and just the kind of story that contains lovely prose in an exceedingly boring way. It's sad to say, but now we must officially declare the 2005 Newbery year as a bum one. Pity.

Born in 1951, Katie Takeshima loves one person more than anyone else in the world. Her older sister Lynn. Lynn and Katie are inseparable from the get-go. Unlike those older sisters that would belittle or hurt their younger adoring siblings, Lynn makes sure that Katie comes with her everywhere. Their family lives in Iowa and must make some big changes when they move to Georgia. Being Japanese-Americans living in the 1950s, their parents must face terrible jobs and long hours. Worse still, Lynn seems to be losing a lot of energy for unknown reasons.
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