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So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko…
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So Far from the Bamboo Grove (edition 1994)

by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

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4314724,472 (3.77)4
Member:dbalic1
Title:So Far from the Bamboo Grove
Authors:Yoko Kawashima Watkins
Info:HarperCollins (1994), Edition: 1st Beech Tree ed, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:3rd-4th Grade Readers, International Books, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Chapter Books
Rating:*****
Tags:international

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So far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

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Although this book was a bit graphic to read at times, it was a very eye-opening read. I found some of the scenes to be a bit intense, such as when Yoko and Ko encounter the rape scene on the train; although it is not said explicitly that rape was occurring, it can be inferred from the descriptive language used. One aspect that I did enjoy and that I found helpful were the translations of certain Japanese words. For example, Yoko explains that after she performed a dance for Corporal Matsumara, she took off her tabi, which are socks.I also enjoyed that the story was told from two different perspectives- from Yoko's point of view and from her brother's. Not only was the story told from two different perspectives, it was also told from that of the Japanese people. Often times I personally feel as though World War II is only depicted from an american's perspective, so it's great that the reader is able to go through this experience with Yoko first hand to truly see what is was like to be a Japanese person living through this terrible time in history. The main idea of this story is perseverance and family; anything and everything can be overcome if you just keep going, especially with the help and support of family by your side. ( )
  KaraHankins | Sep 26, 2014 |
I had very mixed feelings on this book. It was a well written, engaging book, but I cannot say that I enjoyed reading it. It was a little bit too graphic for me, and to think that this is considered a children's book is a scary thought. Specifically, the part when Yoko, Ko, and their mother are on the sick train to Seoul and a woman gives birth. After Korean communists search the train, Ko has to have the placenta thrown over her to make it seem like she just gave birth. Reading about Yoko's experience fleeing Korea during World War 2 was simply depressing. Although I recognize that these kinds of books are necessary to read, it was still a complete shock to realize exactly what people had gone through. When reading perspective pieces about World War 2, a lot of the time people are more exposed to the part of the war that took place in Europe. Reading about the experience of a young Japanese girl living in Korea during the war was a brand new, eye opening experience. The plot was riveting, and although it was a fictionalized account of Yoko's early life, there is a decent amount of truth to her writing. I think the best part of this book was it's message. It spoke profoundly of cultural diversity and history that students in America just aren't exposed to. It portrayed the Japanese in a different light than is usually taught during a World War 2 unit. I think the main idea of this book was just that- there are multiple perspectives to every story. This book exists to tell the other side of the story-the one that students don't typically hear. Although there were gruesome, scary, and downright depressing moments in the book, I have to say that it did a spectacular job of relaying a unique cultural perspective through text. ( )
  lmcswe1 | Sep 25, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this book and really enjoyed reading it. This story was about a Japanese family living in North Korea during World War II. This biography really interested me because it showed the view point of how Yoko and her family felt and the hardships they endured throughout that time. As well as seeing the view point of her brother and his journey throughout the story. I also felt the language used throughout the story was very specific and descriptive. For example when the family is on the train and the author talks about how everyone is starving and dehydrated and when the woman jumps off the train. The details are very specific but also very gruesome. The main idea of this story is that if you persevere through any bad in your life everything will work out in the end. ( )
  kbrowe2 | Mar 24, 2014 |
I had mixed feelings about this book after reading it. I liked the book because it demonstrated a different perspective of such an important event in history that I feel I have only really learned about the American perspective. I feel that this is so important because people should learn about how people on the other side of the situation feel and react. As we have discussed in class there have been decisions where education only informs the students of the American perspective. I feel that books similar to this one should be an integral part of the classroom, when it is appropriate. Which brings me to why I did not like this book. I understand completely how this book demonstrates the realistic properties of this time, but I just felt that the reading level for this book is too young for the child to be mature enough to understand and deal with the content fully and appropriately. This especially comes into play during the suggested rape scene that the daughters encounter on the train. They did not explicitly say that rape was occurring, but it was definitely inferred by the descriptive language used. This book is definitely important and demonstrates important messages about family, education, and fighting for your freedom. I just had a hard time with the graphicness of some of the content. On the other hand, I am completely aware of how important it is to truly depict the occurrences of what was happening during this difficult time with WWII—but the vivid brutality depicted made the book hard to read. For example, while traveling on the train the author provides horrific details depicting a woman giving birth, the newborn dying, and the nurse hurling the corpse off the train. This was just very hard to read, even though it is important to acknowledge the hardships people endured during this memorable time in history. Overall, the main message of this book is that family is so important and it is possible to overcome struggles. This book taught me about the sacrifices family’s make and that it is possible to work through hardships and persevere in difficult times. ( )
  sarabeck | Mar 10, 2014 |
This book is about a Japanese family living in North Korea at the time of World War II. The family tries to escape back to Japan but has a hard time because the Koreans are trying to take back their country. This book is an autobiography of a woman who went through this hardship with her family. I like that this book shows the viewpoint of a Japanese family in another country during the war. It shows their perspective of how the Japanese were treated. ( )
  BaileyR | Mar 4, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0688131158, Paperback)

In the final days of World War II, Koreans were determined to take back control of their country from the Japanese and end the suffering caused by the Japanese occupation. As an eleven-year-old girl living with her Japanese family in northern Korea, Yoko is suddenly fleeing for her life with her mother and older sister, Ko, trying to escape to Japan, a country Yoko hardly knows.

Their journey is terrifying—and remarkable. It's a true story of courage and survival that highlights the plight of individual people in wartime. In the midst of suffering, acts of kindness, as exemplified by a family of Koreans who risk their own lives to help Yoko's brother, are inspiring reminders of the strength and resilience of the human spirit.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:24 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A fictionalized autobiography in which eleven-year-old Yoko escapes from Korea to Japan with her mother and sister at the end of World War II.

(summary from another edition)

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