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So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko…

So Far from the Bamboo Grove (edition 1994)

by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

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4395623,910 (3.78)4
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

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So far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins



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So Far from the Bamboo Grove
Bryan O'Keeffe

I really enjoyed reading this book a lot more than I thought I would. I am really into history, especially WWII time period. I know a lot of what the Japanese did to the people it conquered. With the ability to sympathize with Yoko and her family was absolutely amazing. As outlandish that everything seemed in the story, somehow the author, which was the main character, everything seemed like it actually happened. Yoko was a girl who at first was weak and almost helpless but through escaping Korea to Japan became an extremely strong person. I really like stories with that kind of character development. With this being a chapter book, I feel that maybe some kind of illustrations or actual photos of Korea during that time period might have helped the reader imagine things easier. I know form personal experience that some readers have a hard time seeing things in a historical context if they don't know what things looked like then. The entire story was extremely descriptive. One of my favorite parts was early on in the book when Yoko's mother had her strip the Korean soldiers of their uniforms to disguise themselves as they flew Korea. They had to cut their hair to blend in as well as the condition of the dead soldiers spoke clearly in my mind at that point in the book. The message for this book was not as clear as others I have read. The book simply informs readers of the authors struggles and the horrors the Japanese made during WWII. ( )
  bokeef2 | Oct 17, 2014 |
I liked this book. I liked the plot and the characters. The plot was truly exciting. I had never read a book like this before so it was a different experience. Yoko, her mother, and her sister Ko fight their way through Korea to get to Japan and overcome countless problems. The whole time you find yourself rooting Yoko and her family to make it to Japan and finally be safe and happy. The narration switches from Yoko to her brother Hideyo who isn’t with his family and is fighting his own way to Japan. Even once Yoko makes it to Japan her mother dies so Ko and Yoko are left to defend themselves. Finally Hideyo comes home and the family is together again. The characters were all very different. Ko was the older sensible sister who was left to care for Yoko when their mother died. Their mother was the glue that kept Yoko and Ko from bickering. Hideyo was the only son and the oldest. He wanted to help fight in the war and when Koreans started killing all the Japanese he just wanted to make it home to see his family. All the characters were different and complex so you could always find yourself relating to one of them. I found myself relating to Ko because I am the oldest sibling and I always find myself caring for my brother. The big idea in this book is survival. All through the book the characters are struggling for survival and hoping that one day they will be safe and happy. ( )
  torilynae | Oct 17, 2014 |
This fiction chapter book would be best for 5th graders. It is on the cognitive level of 4th and 5th graders, but has some difficult and sometimes scary concepts. It is about a Japanese family who lived in Japan during the World War and are trying to safely escape the country. It is a good way to start a discussion and inform students about other cultures and history. I recommend this to teachers who want to open students eyes to see what other countries and other people have dealt with in the past. ( )
  nhassa3 | Oct 16, 2014 |
This story was far out of my reading comfort zone. I was immediately intimidated by the historical fiction topic, which I knew very little about. However, I was surprised to find out that this unusual topic appealed to me as a reader. My favorite part of this book was the use of multiple perspectives, the author chose to switch between the young girl’s point of view and her oldest brother’s as they made the long journey to their homeland in Japan. I also enjoyed how the author told the story in deep detail. At some points it felt unnecessary to be overly descriptive, but most of the time it helped me to feel as if I was inside her story. This story also had a number of surprises, which helped push me to read more. I was curious to see what the next twist in the plot would be. Along with twists, this story had a number of main messages. Overall, I believe the author was striving to tell the story of the Korean War, to remind the world of its past mistakes. However, she also chose to touch on the main ideas, that everyone should be accepted no matter their culture and to be kind to all people. ( )
  ShelbyBurton | Oct 13, 2014 |
This book was a chapter book about a young Japanese girl during the war and the difficulties and journeys she went through leaving Korea and traveling to Japan with her mother and sister. "Nineteen forty-five was a bad time for a Japanese girl to be living in northern Korea. More than ever. the Koreans resented the Japanese, who had taken over their country and ruled it as their own."
I thought this book had good and bad qualities. I liked this book because it was a topic that people from the United States might not know a lot about. I liked this book because it taught me about a time in history I was not very knowledgeable about. I also liked this book because it was told from real stories from the author. I liked the point of view because it was told by the author as a young girl when she lived through the story. In my opinion this book is successful in story telling and having the reader captivated and interested but fails to tell two sides of the story. I believe this is okay though because it lets the reader experience on side of the war and situations the author went through. I did not like that there was not a lot of history and sides of the Korean but I think the story of the Japanese was told successfully. I also did not like how graphic the book was. There were several stories about people dying and rape that were very graphic for the age level of the book. "He threw me, roughly, to the bloodstained floor, grabbed Ko, and ordered her to lie down. The nurse ran to the urine tub, picked up the placenta, dripping with urine, put it on Ko's abdomen, and told her "Don't move!" She covered Ko with a large sheet."

I believe the language of the book was descriptive and the writing was engaging and organized. The story went in chronological order and was paced well. The characters were believable because it was a true story. I think the characters were portrayed successfully and were well-developed. "Mother would grab my arm to help me get up, pulling me along strongly until I could run no longer. My face, scratched from falling, kept bleeding. Often when we were off the main track, we got lost. It was Ko who always scouted ahead to find the right path." The plot consisted of problems, solutions, suspense, difficulties, and positive outcomes. There were no illustrations in the book because it was a chapter book. I believe the book definitely pushes the reader to think about tough issues and broadened my perspectives. The big idea of this story is family, courage, and survival. ( )
  smeyer8 | Oct 12, 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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