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Bamboo People Hardcover – July 1, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Young Hoosier Middle Grades Awards 2012-2013
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge; New edition (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580893287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580893282
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #943,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There is a perception that many children acquire over the course of their education that learning and fun are mutually exclusive ideas. If a book has so much as a smidgen of a fact in it then it's no good to you, right? Fortunately, there are thousands of different kinds of child readers. Some like fantasy. Some like science fiction. Some go in for historical novels. And some like to be taken out of their humdrum lives and given a chance to see how the world works from a different perspective. They may even (gasp, shudder, shudder, gasp) enjoy reading realistic contemporary fiction. Enter "Bamboo People" by Mitali Perkins. I know we've enough books out there to say that this probably isn't the first book on Burmese child soldiers we've seen. It may well be the best, though. Splitting her book between two boys on opposite sides of a war they do not want, Perkins deftly drops us head first into a world we do not know and makes it accessible, understandable, and interesting. In a time when every other novel for kids is just a reiteration of an idea we've seen done a hundred ways before, here we have at least one book that knows that being important and being enjoyable are simply opposite sides of the same coin.

Chiko's life is spent mostly indoors, and it's driving him insane. Ever since his father was arrested and taken by the Burmese armies the boy has been forced to hide in his home. His mother's fear? That he'll be snatched away and forced to serve in the army like other boys his age. But when a risk taken to apply for a teaching position leads instead to his capture, Chiko is forced into the impossible position of aiding his government as a soldier.
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Format: Hardcover
Set in current day Burma, a country the size of Texas. It shares borders with India, China, Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand. The Karenni state is on the Thai, Burma border. The Karenni people are being pushed out and killed by the Burmese. Burma has been cited for having the highest number of child soldiers in the world. I learned all of this after reading Bamboo People.

Bamboo People is the kind of fiction that will make one want to seek out the facts. Perkin's has written an eye opening novel for those unfamiliar with what's going on in Burma. The author manages is to educate, while never once forgetting she's telling a story. For many authors this could have easily turned into a story filled with flat characters, relying heavily on facts . But not Perkins, she's a gifted story teller, that comes across on every page.

15 yr old Chiko, is tricked and forced to serve in the Burmese military. Before, Chiko is taken he was living with his mother. His father, a doctor was imprisoned for going against the government. Thanks to his father, Chiko is a smart, well read and independent thinker. He doesn't want to go to war, he wants to teach. Though he must quickly learned to adapt, to survive and make it home.

The captain, the man in charge of kidnapping the young Burmese boys has it in for Chiko. Calling him the teacher with venom. Tai, a young boy from the street quickly attaches himself to Chiko. At first glance Chiko underestimates this boy from the streets, though he quickly learns Tai is smart with a good heart. The first half of Bamboo People is Chiko story. The boy soldiers are of two groups, those who believe in the captain, willingly calling him father and those who don't. Chiko and Tai are in the latter. Perkins is great at the slow build.
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Format: Hardcover
Things are dangerous in Burma. When Chiko's father was taken away to prison, he asked Chiko to take care of his mother. So far, Chiko doesn't feel like he's doing a very good job, since he and his mom don't have enough money to pay the rent, eat well or send to support his dad. When Chiko sees an ad for teachers, he's anxious to go apply, since he can read and write in both English and Burmese. If he can get the job, things will improve for him and his mother. When he goes to apply for the job, he discovers that it's a trick and he and all the other "applicants" are rounded up and forced to become boy soldiers. Chiko and a young street boy become unlikely allies.

Tu Reh is a young Karenni boy. Burmese soldiers have forced him and his family out of their home and into a refugee camp across the Thai border. Tu Reh and his best friend, Sa Reh are consumed with anger and they're anxious to exact revenge. Tu Reh's father is a well regarded and peaceful man - when he selects Tu Reh to accompany him on the camp's latest mission, Tu Reh is ecstatic.

Chiko's and Tu Reh's lives intersect at a violent and surprising moment, changing them and their families forever.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins is an absolutely amazing book! I'm not sure I'll be able to adequately express just how much I loved it and how important I think it is. It's impossible to read this book and not be affected. I felt a range of emotions from anger and sadness to joy and hope. Chiko and Tu Reh are such different characters but I became attached to both of them and rooted for them along the way, especially when their lives came together in such a violent and unexpected way.
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