Sunday, November 27, 2011
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Ha is a child who loves to eat. She planted a papaya tree in her yard in Saigon and watches closely for fruit: "Two green thumbs / that will grow into / orange-yellow delights / smelling of summer." Later, at the refugee camp: "Someone / should be kissed / for having the heart / to send cases of fish sauce / to Guam." Ha's family is sponsored by a man in Alabama, who brings them a paper bucket of chicken one day. They find it almost inedible, because they are used to "fresh-killed chicken / that roamed the yard / snacking on / grains and worms. / Such meat grows / tight in texture, / smelling of meadows / and tasting sweet. / I bite down on a thigh; / might as well bite down on / bread soaked in water. / Still, / I force yum-yum sounds."
The hardships are many in this National Book Award-winning story of total upheaval.
Readalike: Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate is another verse novel immigration story for children and tweens.