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Little Cricket Hardcover – May 10, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
I feel humble of how numerous authors (not of Hmong heritage) want to preserve our stories by putting them in writing (for whatever reason that drew them to do it). I have observed that many Hmong who want to preserve our ways but don't know how to write and those that are able to write seem to have no time or passion.
One of the surprising things that the author told in the story was that the grandfather sew paj ndaub. Though, paj ndaub was traditionally the work of women/girls, it was not uncommon for Hmong men to be very good at it as well especially in the refugee camp experience where the men found few things to do to fill their time. In addition, one of my uncles was famous for making the tab (the woman dress of the Blue Hmong). If one knows how complex, intricate, and the skills with great patience require in making such a masterpiece, one would appreciate its art.
I love the flashbacks, which the narrator tells each time Kia encounters a situation in her new home in Minnesota that caused her to make the comparison. Our experience, whether good or bad, becomes an integral part of who we are.
A great lesson for us all is that we need one another. We all need a little lift in some point in our lives like Kia, Hank, and especially Sam (at the end of the story). The author did not mention the presence of a dad in the Hank & Sam household, so I can only assume that Hank is a single mom raising a special-need son. While Donald Trump or Bill Gates may not need Kia and grandpa's help but for people like Kia, grandpa, Hank, and Sam and the rest of us need each other (no matter what heritage they're from). There is a Hmong song that part of it says, "...the poor lift the orphaned..." It seems that the majority of the rich is so busy getting richer and forget the one important thing that defines the true humanity of the human race--recognizing and aiding those who truly need it.
"...Kia would smile, not because she understood what was funny, but because these good neighbors made her happy with their joyous and quick laughter." I have found that Americans are the most cheerful of all peoples. I watched the summer Olympic on TV not long ago and I could tell which athlete is an American and which is not just by the sense of freedom and joy in their eyes.
It was also interesting that the author chose poker (why not gang, drugs, etc.), which got Xigi into trouble. I understand that casino gambling problem is rampant among the Hmong population in St. Paul/Minneapolis and surrounding. I believe the author wants us to learn a lesson here. It may be too late for the older people that are addicted to gambling and they may have to hit bottom before they "wake up" but our children must be taught that making an honest living by honest and hard work is the surest thing in life and gambling hoping for quick riches only bring despair and disappointment.
What a story beautifully and compassionately told! Thank you, Jackie Brown, for telling our story so well. I am inspired now to write my own story (for my children). It is my intention to make my spouse and all my children to read this book as well.
Life in America is not easy. Grandfather finds learning new things hard, and Kia often finds him gazing out of the window. Xigi, now an adolescent, is breaking away from his family, and is often gone late into the evening. Kia and her grandfather plant their own garden and try to sell their crop at the local farmer's market, saving money to help reunite their family.
Told in Kia's voice, Little Cricket (as Kia is called) learns a great deal about herself, about starting over, and about what is really important in life.
This book is aimed at 4th-6th graders, told by Brown in a way that middle grade readers will understand. I appreciated the authors' note at book's end explaining why Kia and her family had to flee their country. While my school does not have a Hmong population, I have friends who teach in Wisconsin where there is a large population of Hmong immigrants. Although their story is not the same as that of other immigrant groups, the themes in this book will resonate with anyone coming to a new home.
Jackie Brown has presented an excellent book on finding oneself and relocated to another area in a time of war.