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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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53111718,991 (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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It was not until I finished reading this book that I found it as interesting as it actually is. As I was reading along, the chapters did not seem to interest me as they should be. After doing some research I was able to find how controversial of a book this actually is. This sparked my interest and kept me intrigued into finding out more information about it. I found the illustrations in this book, such as the cover, to be very stereotypical of the Asian culture. The front cover depicts to people in traditional Asian clothing in the middle of the Bamboo Grove. I believe the illustrator could've done a better job incorporating illustrations that appeal more to the readers. I also believe that some of the depictions in the text may be a little too vulgar for students in elementary school class settings to be exposed too. Not only are they aggressive but they may not understand the complexity that follows the story in this book. It is definitely for an older audience. Besides being a somewhat gruesome story, it is a story of courage and survival that can teach readers important lessons through a controversial, historical story. ( )
  mcicch2 | Dec 7, 2015 |
So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Kawashima Watkins, is unlike any book I have ever read. Starting off in Nanam, Korea, the story revolves around the perspective of a young Japanese girl named Yoko and her mother and older brother and sister. They live in Korea to avoid the Korean War that is taking place in Japan, where Yoko’s father is on a government mission. Hiding in secret because they are Japanese living in Korea, the last place anyone would think to look for them, they face a harsh journey back to Japan. Yoko’s brother leaves to serve his country and Yoko, her sister and mother take a train to Japan to their home. Once they get to Kyoto, Japan, the mother leaves to find their grandparents for refuge while the sisters attend a Japanese school. The mother comes back and Yoko sees her just before she dies from an unknown reason. The sisters find money and learn to live one their own with just each other, and eventually their brother finds them and they move on.
The theme of this book is about having endurance and courage. Yoko experiences many brutal situations and sees many harsh realities, such as young Japanese girls bring raped by Korean soldiers or a dead baby being thrown off a train. I did not enjoy reading this book. It was utterly depressing and obviously biased, being from a Japanese perspective during the Korean War. I would not include this book in my classroom due to the extremely mature topics and aggressive chain of events. ( )
  EllieCoe | Oct 19, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book because is the difficult topics it tackles and makes understandable to younger readers. The author was not afraid to describe graphic events as they really happened and I think it is important for a book to portray accurate events and raw feelings of characters, which this book certainly did. Because this is a chapter book and doesn't contain any pictures, the writing really had to speak for itself and I believe that it did. The book was written in the point of view of the middle child of a family who was fleeing Korea after the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. This text confronts the difficult subjects of being separated from ones family and leaving ones home. ( )
  rlove2 | Oct 13, 2015 |
I did not like reading this book because I thought it was boring. There were parts of it that were slower than others and I found it a bit uninteresting. It is a historical fiction book and gives the history of the Japanese and Koreans while telling a story of a family. The characters were well developed and the story flowed and was organized from beginning to end. There were no illustrations, because this is a chapter book. This book does talk about issues within the different races and how they went to war with each other. The book explains what the family had to go through during this tough time. Overall I thought it was a good resource for learning about this particular war and teaching students some history for their background knowledge.
  jcooke7 | Oct 12, 2015 |
So Far From the Bamboo Grove is a historical fiction chapter book. The author’s language includes Japanese words into the text which helped me formed a more realistic mindset of everyday life during that time period. For example, they say “yen” when talking about money. I also learned from the novel that tradition and respect that are a huge part of the Japanese culture. When referring to elders or people they respect, they say “Honorable” before the individual’s name. This story is in the perspective of a Japanese eleven-year-old girl named Yoko. We typically do not get this perspective in many novels that take place during World War II. Yoko has a lot of feelings of fright and intimidation about being caught by the Communist North Koreans, and that is not really an aspect that we tend to focus on during WWII. We tend to group all of the Japanese together as the enemies during this time period. The main idea of the story is that it is not fair to assume that each member of a group has the same values and opinions. Stereotypes are not always accurate. We tend to think of all of the Japanese as one of our enemies during World War II, but it is not fair to assume that all Japanese people share the same views of their government. ( )
  VictoriaStagg | Oct 7, 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 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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