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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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4819421,406 (3.85)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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This story is a very intense, first hand, account of war. The author of this story tells about all of the trauma, stress, and loss she suffered while trying to escape North Korea. The story was very interesting, but inappropriate for young readers if you ask me. The writing is clear and concise, but it talks about some controversial things. There is a somewhat detailed account of rape, which is not appropriate for a young audience. There is a lot of violence and death that could be scary to children. There were some parts within the story that I found to be a little sickening due to the level of gore that was described. One set back I had was that I did not know enough about the war or the tension between North Korea and Japan to understand why things were happening. I understood that the two countries were not on great terms, but I could not figure out why exactly that was. A basic history lesson would be required if a teacher was to incorporate this book in his or her classroom.
  akern3 | Mar 21, 2015 |
This book was definitely an interesting book, it had so many vivid details it was hard to read at times. I struggled to keep up with it at times because of the cruelty that some of the soldiers showed with their actions. It was powerful story with vivid details of their struggles. I thought that they mother died in such a sad way, she almost just fell asleep after going through so much to get there and it was a little disappointing. But it was a happy ending when the brother finally found his sisters after almost dying from the cold and being saved by the family. I wish that the father could have been in the story more. They mention him a few times but nothing is ever said or seen of the father in the story which I found to be frustrating. Overall I found this book to be a very great story because it shows how with your family you can get through almost anything, even war. ( )
  lbradf4 | Mar 3, 2015 |
An incredible, overwhelming, and shocking story of Yoko Kawashima and her journey home from North Korea. I was so deeply moved from this story. Each chapter created an emotional rollercoaster of fear, sadness, and pain. The main idea of this chapter book was the journey Yoko had with her mother and sister escaping North Korea to their homeland of Japan after the war. There were many parts of the story that may seem inappropriate for the age group determined, but this powerful read can be beneficial for all to read. I enjoyed the bilingual aspect of the book. Japanese and Korean language was shown. For example, “Komapsumnida (thank you),” whispered Hideyo with Hee Cho” (p.168) is the Korean language. The Japanese language was stated on page 11, “I was taking my tabi (socks) off when Major Ryu hurried in.” Adding these translations is a nice way to see how these cultures intertwine. The point of view changes between Yoko and her brother were very nice. We were able to check in with Hideyo and see the struggles of a Japanese male as well as the women and children struggles. The story followed how Japanese power over Korea had fallen causing hostility from the Korean people against the Japanese. In the beginning of the story Yoko was abused by the Japanese force for refusing to give up a family air loom for the military. Later Yoko, her mother, and sister have to dress in the anti- Japanese force uniforms to make it to safety. The power switch gives the readers a compare and contrast feel to the powers of each people. This is a deep read and the describing of details of the wounded, survivors, and surroundings create horrible images in our minds. Although there are no pictures; it’s like you are living through this struggle and pain. An amazing book! I would love for others to get a chance to read and reflect on this novel. ( )
  kfrey4 | Mar 3, 2015 |
In my opinion, this is a good book. I liked this book for multiple reasons. First, I liked how descriptive the language was. As I read the book, I could picture every scene in my head and it made me feel like I was there. I thought when the book said, “the dark enveloped the train”, that is was a unique description of how scary the train actually was. I could also create an image in my head when it said, “the trees turned to bright colors and some already stood naked and shivering when the wind blew”. I liked this description a lot because the author gave a tree a human characteristic. Second, I liked how the book portrayed a lot of the characteristics of Koreans and Japanese, and what it was like living in that time period. For example, the book depicted culture by saying, “no maiden should ever visit a man”. This showed their customs and the importance to follow them. The book did a good job of helping its readers understand different perspectives of the time. For example, a couple of chapters would switch to different people in the book and describe their point of view, how they were surviving and feeling during the time. Overall, I think the main message of this book is to show the Japanese point of view of the war and how awful and scaring it was for them. ( )
  LaurenVormack | Mar 3, 2015 |
I think that this is an extremely captivating story, however, I do not think that this is appropriate for children in 5th or 6th grade because of the graphic content that is discussed. For example, "I stopped to drink and I heard a cry. In the weeds was a Korean man on top of a girl. She was kicking wildly and screaming." Rape was implied in this statement and I feel that, that is a touchy subject to be talking about with 5th graders. The whole book was graphic, but another specific part was, "the medic yanked the baby from her and quickly tossed it from the train. The tiny body floated in the air like a rag doll for a moment and vanished." With all of this being said, I think that this story is extremely detailed and I feel every emotion that Mama, Ko, and Little One were all going through. For example, "He pulled my earlobe down and inserted a long thin wire. Tears streaming, I gritted my teeth and saw Mother's agonized face." With this, I could really visualize the wire being inserted into her ear and I could feel the pain that she was going through in that exact moment because of the description. It is crazy to me that this story was really someone's life, Yoko's life, and that someone actually went through all these trials and turmoils. From seeing a baby being born right next to her, to watching women get raped, to watching her mother die, this is just so much for one person to go through and really had a strong impact on me. I really felt for Little One and her family and after reading, felt extremely grateful that I have never had to endure such hardships and struggles as digging through trashcans for food or sleeping in a forest or even walking for days and days at a time.

As graphic as this story is, I think that it is very powerful. This story shows courage, bravery, and determination. An example of this is the Mama, Ko, and Little One all persevered through various hardships such as weather, Korean Communists, and even death, throughout their journey. The message here is to never give up and to always keep pushing through your hardships. Mother is a prime example of this. She did everything she could for her daughters like give up her own food so that they weren't hungry, protected them in any way that she could, and just always put her daughters and their safety before her own. As the story went on, Little One would occasionally talk about how thin Mama was getting. Most of this was because she would make sure that her daughters ate before she did. But as I said before, I do not think this is appropriate for young children. The back of the book says that this book was made for children ages 10 and up, however I think this book is far too graphic for children that young to be reading. Because of how descriptive the book is, it is very easy to visualize exactly what is happening. For example, "a plane swept above our heads and instantly we three, well trained, flattened ourselves. Boooooooom! An explosion. I seemed to be blowing away and my head went black." I can visualize the explosion happening and the family collapsing to the ground. If I can visualize exactly what is happening, than so can younger children. Maybe a 7th or 8th grader could read this book, but I definitely wouldn't give this to a 5th or 6th grader, simply because of all of the graphic descriptions and inappropriate scenarios that are discussed, such as rape. ( )
  LexaGoldbeck | Mar 2, 2015 |
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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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