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Author: Mitali Perkins

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Publisher: Charlesbridge, ©2010

Material: hard cover

Summary: With his father imprisoned by the Burmese government, Chiko must take care of his mother. The government soldiers are turning every boy into a conscript to fight the Karenni, so it was getting harder. Reluctantly, his mother agrees to let Chiko go to the city to take a test for teachers. In an instant, their worst fears come true: it was a government trick and Chiko is loaded into a truck and taken off to training deep in the jungle. Chiko befriends Tai, a homeless boy who has been living on the streets. When Chiko takes Tai's place on a special mission, he loses his leg on a mine. During a scouting mission, Tu Reh's father finds Chiko. Tu Reh, remembering the horrors the Burmese have brought on his family, is angry when his father suggests that he carry the boy to a doctor. This is not what a Karenni warrior does! This middle grade novel introduces readers to life in Burma and expands our understanding of what life is like for kids in other cultures.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 12 and up

Interest Level: 10 and up

Reading Level: 4.8

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: Wow! I devoured this book. It is an incredible story on so many levels. Although Chiko and Tu Reh are fictional characters, these are young men who could easily be "real" classmates for our children. Although the backdrop for the story is the civil war within Burma, the author does an exceptional job of bringing forward the dangers and realities without emphasizing the gore and blood. This is a book that kids and adults can enjoy independently or together.

Pros: Intriguing characters and ongoing suspense will keep readers of all ages turning the pages until well after bedtime.

Cons: Absolutely none!

Borrow or Buy: Buy! This is a perfect selection to read yourself or enjoy in a book club setting.


Educational Themes: There is lots to explore in Bamboo People. There are obvious themes of family, friendship, and human rights. You might also explore the Karenni culture more, as well as the value of education in society. There are several pivotal female characters in the book, and a discussion about patriarchal society and expectations could create an interesting dialogue.

Notes: A Reading Tub® volunteer submitted this review. This is part of her personal library.

Literary Categories: Fiction - multicultural, historical fiction, family, friendship, young adult, Asia

Date(s) Reviewed: August 2010

Other Reviews: See Critics Reviews at; and reviews and reader feedback at


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