Saturday, January 17, 2009

Project Mulberry

Linda Sue Park
Yearling 2007

This is a great little book.

I love Linda Sue Park. She does her homework! What she doesn't already know about, she finds out about before she writes about it. She already knows about being a Korean American, and she handles this subject deftly and naturally, as only someone who has really been there can do. She didn't know about silk worms, so she recruited family members to raise two different batches. Hence the loving detail with which she describes the life of the silk worms through the eyes of her main character.

This would be a great book for a middle school English class. It's a school story, a friendship story, it deals well with issues of racial prejudice, and brings up questions on animal rights and environmentalism. There's plenty of fodder for good discussion here.

My favorite, favorite part, though, were the clever asides between chapters when the author records conversations she had with her main character in the course of writing the book. As a writer whose characters follow her to the grocery store and pester her while she is doing her housework, I am comforted to know that if I really am insane, at least one other writer I admire and respect is insane in the same way.

So I hope to make Linda Sue Park fans out of all of you. I hope you'll read all her books. Project Mulberry is a good place to start.

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