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A touching story of family, loss, and memory.
Dara's grandmother, Lok Yeay, is full of stories about her life growing up in Cambodia, before she immigrated to the United States. Lok Yeay tells her granddaughter of the fruits and plants that grew there, and how her family would sit in their yard and watch the stars that glowed like fireflies. Lok Yeay tells Dara about her brother, Lok Ta, who is still in Cambodia, and how one day she will return with Dara and Dara's family to visit the place she still considers home. But when a phone call disrupts Lok Yeay's dream to see her brother again, Dara becomes determined to bring her grandmother back to a place of happiness.
Anne Sibley O'Brien's dreamlike illustrations beautifully complement this fictional story based on real-life experiences. Back matter contains information about the admission of Cambodian refugees into the United States, specifically Maine, after soldiers forced them out of their homeland in the 1970s. An author's note and glossary are also included.
A PATH OF STARS was originally developed for the New Mainers Book Project, part of the Maine Humanities Council's Born to Read program. The Project sponsors high-quality children's picture books created from the experiences of Maine's refugee communities, to preserve and present their cultural heritage and to promote their English language literacy.
Because of her close relationship with her grandmother, young Dara is the one who can comfort her when her only surviving brother dies in Cambodia.
Dara's grandmother, Lok Yeay, tells her tales of her happy pre-war life in Cambodia, remembering childhood activities such as climbing trees, eating mangoes and stargazing from the platform in their yard. She makes Cambodian food for the family and for special meals at their Buddhist temple. Oil paintings with oil-crayon accents show the woman s memories floating in clouds over images of Dara's family and their home in Maine. The swirling lines and relatively dark palette of blacks and orange are suggestive of her longing. There is brief mention of the war and the survivors trek to a refugee camp in Thailand, where they made an altar for the Buddha with pictures of family members who had died just like the one Dara helps her grandmother make when her brother dies. O'Brien (After Gandhi, 2009, etc.) was commissioned by the Maine Humanities Council to create a picture book reflecting the lives of Cambodian-Americans there, but this moving depiction of the special relationship between a grandmother and a grandchild has broad appeal.
The Cambodian particulars are intriguing, but the satisfaction that a child can also help a grieving adult is what readers will take away from this sympathetic story. --Kirkus ReviewsDara loves to hear her Lok Yeay (her grandmother) reminisce about her childhood in Cambodia, and they both hope of one day visiting the faraway country and seeing her grandmother's brother, Lok Ta. But not all of Lok Yeay's stories are happy ones; she also tells about losing most of her family in the war and her desperate escape to a refugee camp. When Lok Yeay receives sad news about Lok Ta, Dara calls upon her family's traditions and Lok Yeay's own stories to offer the grieving woman comfort. O'Brien's detailed, affecting text skims over the trauma of Lok Yeay's wartime experience, but young readers will understand the gravity of it just the same. Golden-toned illustrations featuring soft brushstrokes, expressive faces, and warm scenes of Dara's Cambodian American family buoy the story's sadder moments. Commissioned by the Maine Humanitites Council, O'Brien's book includes notes on the author's research, the refugee experience, and Cambodian culture. A loving, intergenerational story about loss and perseverance that feels honest, empowering, and--best of all--hopeful. --BooklistCommissioned by the Maine Humanities Council, O'Brien (the Jamaica books) pens a tale about a Cambodian-Ameri