Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Hirahara, Naomi. 2008. 1001 CRANES. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780385735568 [Suggested Grade Levels 4–7]
Twelve-year-old Angela Kato’s world is unraveling. Her parents are divorcing and she is unwillingly uprooted from the comfort of her home and friends in Northern California and sent to spend the summer with her old-school Japanese grandparents near Los Angeles. Aware that her father is already in the process of moving out, Angela feels a total loss of control by being so far away. She clings to the belief that if she is there with her parents, she can be the glue that keeps them together. Named after a 60’s radical, Angela feels disconnected from her Japanese heritage and unsure where she fits in with her extended family. She has enjoyed cultural events with her paternal grandparents in Northern California, but at home the most frequently used Japanese phrase is her father’s “no monku” which means no complaining – something she hears a lot. She perceives her grandparents and aunt to have a very old-fashioned, boring life, but she is put to work folding origami cranes for her grandmother’s business and soon comes to feel a sense of place being part of the family business. Her eyes are opened to the complicated workings of adult relationships as she transitions from girl to young adult.
Hirahara captures the conflicting emotions of a girl who both disdains and craves the relationships that are more comforting than she thought possible. Angela’s story is a good choice for readers who may be experiencing upheaval in their life and looking to identify with an empathetic character.
Ask readers to write about a difficult time in their life, perhaps moving, a divorce, changing schools, etc. and how they changed as a result.
Other books about the Japanese-American experience:
Easton, Kelly. HIROSHIMA DREAMS. ISBN 9780525478218
Kadohata, Cynthia. KIRA-KIRA. ISBN 0439799414
Namioka, Lensey. MISMATCH. ISBN 0385731833
By Tammy Korns