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Bamboo People Hardcover – July 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
*Starred Review* Gr 7-10–With authenticity, insight, and compassion, Perkins delivers another culturally rich coming-of-age novel. Two teens on opposing sides of ethnic conflict in modern-day Burma (Myanmar) tell an intertwined story that poignantly reveals the fear, violence, prejudice, and hardships they both experience. Chiko, a quiet, studious student whose medical doctor father has been arrested as a traitor, is seized by the government and forced into military training. Chiko is groomed for guerrilla warfare against the Karenni, a Burmese minority group living in villages and refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. After he and his patrol stumble into land mines, Tu Reh, an angry Karenni and rebel fighter, must decide whether or not to save him. Tu Reh's home was destroyed by Burmese soldiers, and he struggles with his conscience and his desire for revenge and independence. Both Chiko and Tu Reh are caught in a conflict that neither fully understands. Family, friendships, and loyalty have shaped their lives. But as young soldiers, they face harrowing situations, profound suffering, and life-and-death decisions. Both boys learn the meaning of courage. Chiko and Tu Reh are dynamic narrators whose adolescent angst and perspectives permeate the trauma of their daily lives. Dialogue and descriptions are vibrant; characters are memorable; cultural characteristics are smoothly incorporated; and the story is well paced. Perkins has infused her narrative with universal themes that will inspire readers to ponder humanitarian issues, reasons for ethnic conflict, and the effects of war. The author's notes provide helpful background information on Burmese history and the ongoing military regime's repression of minorities.–Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC α(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
When 15-year-old Chiko is pressed into military service by the Burmese government, he finds himself involved in an ongoing war with the Karenni people, one of the many ethnic minorities in modern Burma. A scholar, not a soldier, Chiko soon gets wounded and finds himself at the mercy of Tu Reh, an angry Karenni boy only slightly older than he is. Will these two teens, who should be natural enemies, find a way to friendship? Perkins' latest novel—told in the individual voices of the two boys—explores that possibility while introducing a considerable amount of factual and contextual information about present-day Burma. Though occasionally didactic and a bit preachy, this is nevertheless a story that invites discussion of the realities of warfare rooted in long-standing antagonism and unreasoning hatred of “the other.” A particularly good book for classroom use. Grades 5-8. --Michael Cart
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In the jungles of Burma men and children are fighting in a war for the freedom of their homeland.
The story begins with a boy named Chiko. He is looking for the school in his town to apply as a teacher but he accidentally steps into a room full of people applying to be street sweepers. All of the sudden the doors open up to where soldiers are waiting to take them away and make them soldiers as well. Chicko is taken to a training facility for soldiers. The man who runs the camp makes them do almost impossible tasks. Chiko makes friends with another Burmese kid in camp named Tu Reh. The captain of the camp sends Chiko on a mission. During the mission a mine kills Chiko’s team but Chiko lives. An enemy soldier saves Chiko and brings him to a healer hut in the jungle. The enemy solider brings Chiko and the healer back to his camp, and healer tries to heal Chiko. Chiko looses his leg to an infection and tries to find his way back home. This book follows his journey back home.
In the story Chiko encounters enemy soldiers, learns how to live off the land, and makes friends.
Chiko is a 15-year-old Burmese kid growing up in Yangon, Burma. Chiko is kind, shy, timid, and slight. His Father was arrested because he was considered a traitor of the government. Chiko can read and write in Burmese and English.
In the book I found that the overall theme was perseverance. I thought the theme was perseverance because Chiko has to endure through camp, the jungle the, loss of his leg, and finding his way back home. I think reading about a kid persevering through hard times is very motivational. When I was reading this book I realized some kids my age have to persevere through much harder things than I do.
I think this book was very good. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure novels. The reason I would recommend this is because it’s a fast non-stop adventure.
The indoctrination begins at once. Chiko is told the Karenni tribe wants to tear Burma apart. In order to save his country, he is ordered to fight the Karenni. These orders come from the same military force that arrested his father, a doctor, for using his healing gifts for an â€œenemy of the stateâ€. Alone in the mountainous jungles, stripped of all he has except for two photographs and his broken glasses, Chiko has to find his way through this new life.
Bamboo People is a powerful story of a young man facing monumental challenges. His mother, already heart-broken over the imprisonment of his father, will be wildly afraid when he doesnâ€™t return. Chiko is surrounded by young recruits who donâ€™t want to kill the tribal people any more than he does. The Burmese soldiers drive them hard, through jungles full of hidden mines. In these life-changing times Chiko learns lessons of courage and friendship that prove to be crucial for his survival, and for that of the Burmese youth with him.
The first refugees I ever worked with were Karen refugees from Thailand refugee camps. They fled their village as the Burmese army closed in to burn it to the ground and to enslave their tribe. Bamboo People tells a story that needs to be heard. Itâ€™s a story of hope and of truth, vividly written. I highly recommend this novel.