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Silk Umbrellas Hardcover – February 2, 2004
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6--Noi, 11, lives in a small village in Thailand with her parents, her grandmother, and her older sister. Her carefree life, filled with family and school, is changing as farmland is sold to developers, costing her father his job. Money is scarce, and the girl is stunned when Ting is sent to work in a factory. Her horror grows when she visits her sister at her job one day and realizes that this might be her destiny as well. Noi, however, has other plans. She has been helping her grandmother, who paints silk umbrellas to sell at the market and knows that she has a talent. The interaction between Noi and Kun Ya, who teaches her how to paint with her entire body and mind, is beautiful, and reminiscent of Linda Sue Park's A Single Shard (Clarion, 2001). As the characters go about their daily tasks, facing hardships and illness, but sharing their love, the story blends details about food preparation, modes of travel, work, and the celebration of a special holiday, presenting a real sense of this distant place. The Thai words sprinkled throughout the text are clear in context and also defined in a glossary. A simple but inspiring story of a child with talent, desire, and belief in herself.--Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 3-6. Marsden's first novel, The Gold-Threaded Dress (2002), concerned a Thai family living in America; her latest book offers a sensitive portrayal of a family in Thailand. The land Noi's father has farmed is sold for vacation houses, and the loss of income means that her 15-year-old sister, Ting, must work in a radio factory, though the work is hard on her eyes. Eleven-year-old Noi, who has a gift for painting, hopes to learn to decorate umbrellas to be sold in the tourist market. When her mother can no longer sell her sewing, Ting's future depends on whether Noi's talent can enable her to earn enough money to help support her family. In simple, lucid prose, Marsden tells a story that is foreign in detail and texture but universal in appeal. The community's weather, customs, and beliefs are reflected in the observant Noi's quiet narrative, but more fundamental is her love for each family member, her concern for their livelihood, and her longing to contribute to the family's fortunes in her own way. The few Thai words appearing in the text are generally understandable from context; they are also translated in the appended glossary. A short novel in a small, well-designed package, this gracefully told story will resonate with many young readers. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
I gave it to my 12 year old granddaughter for Christmas. She enjoyed it to.
Kid 1: I liked it but I wanted more. I wanted an ending that wrapped things up more. I was depressed by it.
Kid 2: I liked it, but it needed more action. The grandmother seemed like she was dying, and I think she should have.
Kid 3: I agree with the above.
Kid 4: Needed more action and a better ending.
Kid 5: Same.
Kid 6: It was written with great literary skills, but I think they needed a little more cliffhangers, stuff that held you on the edge of your seat.
Kid 7: Needs some mystery in it.
Teacher: We had some good discussions about the book, especially the issue surrounding the older sister and her need to join a factory. I especially liked the various mention of Thai foods and customs. My students have a deeper sense of Southeast Asian life from reading this.:)
Noi is a young girl who is wiser I think than her years. She is a talented artist,who doesn't believe in her own talent. She is a loving little sister to Ting, and becomes worried about her when their mother sends her to work for a radio factory. She also starts to worry about her own fate when she sees the state that having this job has put Ting in. Will mother send Noi to work in the radio factory, Will Noi's umbrellas be enough to keep her from being sent to that horrible place? Well you will have to read to find out!
I love to read Y/A books, but I don't usually read grades 3-6. I am glad I picked up this book when I did, and will read more from this author. Highly recommend for those who love reading history/culture. or for those who have young ones!
When Noi's family falls on hard times, though, and Noi's older sister Ting is sent to work making radios at the factory, Noi fears that she, too, will be sent to work when she finishes school in just a few months. When Noi sees the stifling environment of the factory, she grows even more desperate to avoid this fate and asks her grandmother to help her learn how to paint. In secret, Noi creates dozens of decorated umbrellas, inspired by the flora, fauna and colors of the landscape. When her grandmother grows ill, will Noi be able to paint umbrellas beautiful enough to help support her family?
Set against the background of preparations for the harvest festival of Loy Krathong, SILK UMBRELLAS is not only the story of the birth of an artist, but also a loving portrayal of Thai nature and culture. Careful readers will notice subtle commentaries on the changing economic conditions in Thailand. Electronics factories replace traditional crafts; Noi's father weaves fishing baskets, not for fishermen but for Western tourists.
SILK UMBRELLAS is a slim novel that can nevertheless be read on several levels. Younger readers will enjoy witnessing Noi's artistic development and learning about Thai customs, and older readers will also grasp the larger cultural commentary in Carolyn Marsden's sensitively written novel.