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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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57213517,365 (3.8)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 is semi-autobiographical and was written based based on the author's childhood experiences. Yoko Kawashima Watkins describes the aftermath of World War II in Korea. Yoko and her family have to return to Japan and hide from both the Soviet military and the Koreans. Her mother, her sister and her embark on a perilous journey back to Korea where they encounter an innumerable amount of atrocities. These range from death to blatant hatred to rape. Yoko's brother makes his own journey to Japan from the ammunition's factory he was stationed in. This book was gripping and very well written. However, I cannot say that I enjoyed it. I found myself cringing throughout the entire story. I did like it for two reasons: the character development and the historical information provided. The characters (Yoko, Ko, the mother and Hideyo) were given personality and life in the pages of this book. The strength of the family is apparent when Yoko, Ko and her mother travel from train box cars to train stations. Their ingenuity was discernible when they don Korean Communist uniforms. Hideyo's own journey presented a parallel journey in which he skillfully and cleverly makes his way back to Japan and his two sisters. The historical information provided to the reader was very apparent. So Far From The Bamboo Grove allows the audience to see another perspective of World War II and its aftermath. While these two aspects make the book a solid "four stars", I could not give it "five stars" because of the content. It is certainly hard to read. ( )
  mkenne29 | Mar 4, 2017 |
In my opinion, this book is wonderful chapter book that individuals such as Yoko, had to endure during the Japanese Occupation. I was able to connect to Yoko in the story because I too am the youngest of my siblings.
Watkins uses realistic and graphic imagery to engage her readers. A teacher should be careful on selecting this book for a lesson because the striking events that happen throughout the story. Watkins also makes the plot engaging by making it suspenseful. I felt like while I was reading this book that I didn’t want to put it down. I needed to know what was happening next. Additionally, the mystery about what happens to Yoko’s dad is never revealed throughout the book. The author also switches perspectives throughout the book once Hideyo (Yoko’s brother) is safe and starts to search for his family. I enjoyed reading about his journey along with Yoko’s. Her decision to do this made the book even more engaging because as I reader, I kept asking myself “When are they going to meet up again?”. I think readers will be able to relate to the characters as well because they are put into certain situations that us readers can relate to. For example, Yoko endures bullying in school but decides not to fight back, while instead tries to be the smartest in her class. I believe all students have felt bullied one way or another and can relate to this. If not, it would be beneficial for them to read it from a different perspective.
I feel like there can be many messages or ideas pulled out of this book. One being to never give up as Yoko and her family had to work hard to survive. Other possible messages could be about family, unity, and the power of friendship. ( )
  aphelp6 | Mar 1, 2017 |
I had mixed feelings about this book after reading it. I like the book because it gave me a different outlook on how I look at people, but I didn’t like the book because I could not relate personally to the book. The book was very sad, and I felt horrible for these girls the whole time. It really made me think about my own life and how I may be quick to judge others. I like the characters in the book because they are very well developed and I could really picture them on the journey they had to take. I also like how the book pushes readers to think about tough issues. The story is based on true events, and people really went through these things. It really makes you appreciate the life you have and realize that you should be grateful that you didn’t have to go through these difficult things, especially at such a young age. One scene that really stuck out to me was when they threw the baby that had died on the train out of the window, right in front of the grieving mother. She was holding the baby trying to feed him and realized the baby wasn’t moving. The nurse simply tossed the baby out the window, along with many other dead bodies. This really shocked me that they would do this right in front of the mother, who was extremely upset. In this same scene, the main character, “Little One”, was laying down to go to sleep on the train and a suddenly felt something wet on her back. It ended up being the blood of the women next to her who was in the middle of giving birth. Little One’s mother told her to ignore it and to give her blanket to the new mother. Her mother said to go to sleep and she would get a shower in the next town. This is shocking to me because I could not imagine being 7 years old and have a stranger bleed on me, and then have to sleep in those clothes, as well as give her my only blanket for her to get bloody as well. I would have not been so easily convinced to give up my only blanket, as Little One did. Therefore, I believe this book pushes readers to think about tough issues. These issues are harder than anything I have ever had to endure, which I believe is also true for many people. I think the main message of this book is the lesson of strength and perseverance because throughout the book every family member is struggling in their own way and must push through their problems to overcome their struggle. Where most people would have given up, Little One, Ko, Mother, and Hideyo kept pushing in order to keep the family together. After Mother dies, Ko and Little One stick together, even when they have no money, food, or shelter. I think this is a good message to send to readers because it shows there is always light at the end of the tunnel. If you keep pushing you will achieve your goal, and I think this book really highlighted this theme. ( )
  adyer4 | Feb 27, 2017 |
I liked this book for 3 reasons. The first reason I liked this book is because the plot was very engaging. The author kept the story moving and there was never a dull moment. I felt like there was always a lot of things happening in a short amount of time, which never left me bored. The second reason is that the point of view was unique. I had never read a book from a Japanese child's point of view in Korea during World War II. The third reason I liked this book is because it pushes readers to think about all of the resources they have and what it would be like with out clean clothes, water, food, and shelter. The eleven-year-old main character went without these basic necessities, which gave readers an understanding of what it is like to not have water, food, shelter, and clean clothes. The big idea of the story is about this Japanese eleven-year-old girl who was living in Korea during the Japanese Occupation. During World War II, her and her family were forced to abruptly leave their home. The main character, Yoko, and her family travelled many miles to become safe and during her journey, revealed a sense of persistence and resilience. ( )
  hhilse1 | Feb 25, 2017 |
So far from the Bamboo Grooves was by far my most enjoyable book that we were assigned in class. Through its two different point of views and its vivid characters, this book whose theme is perseverance, created a very enjoyable and emotional journey of a family fleeing Korea during war. The autobiography traced this young girl in her journey to freedom by accompanying her in the train ride where a woman gave birth to a dead baby, in the woods where the family would hide from soldiers, and the apartment that her and her sister lived once they were safe. The vivid details of the soldiers, the woods, the trains, and the people she met were incredibly helpful when I envisioned the story in my mind as I read. The story also switched to not only focus on Yoko (the author), but also on her brother who was making the journey alone. It traced his hardships when he was hiding in a box in the factory when it was attacked, when he found his house abandoned and robbed, and when he trekked through the snow in the woods. The author used vivid language to describe these settings which helped me again to envision the setting and hardships of the family. The characters in this story were also very well developed. From reading this, I began to understand that Yoko was a very stubborn but strong girl, her sister was a leader and was also very strong, and her mother was strong as well and very, very caring of her daughters and son. The sister often yelled at Yoko when she was complaining while mother would hold Yoko when she was cold and was patient with her at all times. ( )
  tvance2 | Nov 16, 2016 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:44 -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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