Mitali Perkins has a knack for creating intricate, believable characters and has definitely done so in Bamboo People. The story of two boys, Chiko, a child forced into being a soldier for the Burmese government, and Tu Rei, a Karenni boy, whose people the Burmese are attempting to take over. The boys are set up by society to be enemies, but both possess personalities that ultimately draw them into a strange, yet touching friendship.
Not only will readers learn a lot about a culture they probably haven’t heard a whole lot about, as well as an ongoing problem with child soldiers in that region of the world, but they’ll also be entranced by the personal nature of both Chiko’s and Tu Rei’s stories. They’re written so realistically that one can’t help but put oneself in the position of these boys. It’s a terrifying concept to even think about, from either side of the war, and a true inspiration to spread the word about this subject.
I did find portions of the story to be a bit wordy, going on for longer than I would have liked, but I have absolutely no other complaints. I loved this latest piece by Mitali Perkins from cover to cover (and even quite literally the cover)! I am always amazed at how much she is able to educate, as well as entertain with her books.
A great choice to read aloud with your class for a unit on world conflict or something along those lines.
Bamboo People, by Mitali Perkins, Charlesbridge Publishing, $16.95, young adult.