It's Book Party Day for one of the writers I admire most in the world, Mitali Perkins! Not only is this woman a deep and thoughtful writer, but she actively promotes discussion about culture and race in teen literature. All this, besides being a wonderful person to know!
Mitali's seventh book, BAMBOO PEOPLE , is born today, and already it's a Junior Library Guild Selection, an Indie Next Pick, and it received a Publisher's Weekly *starred review*. Stop by Mitali's blog today to help her celebrate!
Bamboo People takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. It’s narrated by a fifteen-year-old teen forced to fight in the Army and a sixteen-year-old teen on the run. They’re on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma. Chiko, the Burmese boy, isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family's home and bamboo fields. When they meet in the jungle, their lives are changed forever.
Holly: Why this book, why now?
Mitali: I wanted to write a guy book before my teens got too old to enjoy it :)
For three years my husband, children, and I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand. While we were there we visited the Karenni refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. I was astounded at how the Karenni kept their hopes up despite incredible loss, still dreaming and talking of the day when they would once again become a free people. I was impressed, too, by how creatively they used bamboo. Homes, bridges, transportation, weapons, food, storage, irrigation—all these and more depended on the resilient, lavish, and ecologically efficient bamboo plant. I began to think about that plant as an excellent symbol for the peoples of that region.
During that time I also began to understand how tough life is for Burmese teenagers. Only about a third are enrolled in school, and most can’t find jobs. According to international human rights organizations, Burma has the largest number of child soldiers in the world, and that number is growing...
Hear about Mitali's inspiration and enter the BAMBOO PEOPLE giveaway