Thursday, March 26, 2009
Linda Sue Park
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Genre: Realistic Fiction (Multicultural Literature)
Project Mulberry tells the story of two best friends, Julia and Patrick. They are both members of the Wiggle Club, which teaches kids about farming, and were just getting started on the annual project for the state fair. Julia and Patrick decided to do a project on Animal Husbandry, but were having problems deciding on which animal to use. Finally, it is Julia's mom who suggests the idea of raising silkworms. She told the kids her grandmother used to raise them in Korea and harvested their silk to use as thread to make things. While Patrick loves the idea, Julia has problems with it - she felt it was too Korean, that projects done for the Wiggle Club needed to be "American". Julia struggles internally with continuing with the project, trying to find secret ways to sabotage it without seeming suspicious. Ultimately, Julia learns the value of friendship, and just how American raising silk worms really is.
The element of this book that I really enjoy is the way Linda Sue Park actually incorporates dialogue between herself and the character of Julia. She does this in between each chapter, and lets the reader in on little bits of information about how she crafted the book, what parts of the book are biographical, and how important the role of Julia is in guiding the plot. Also, if the reader is not interested in that aspect of the book, they can totally skip it and it has no impact on the reading of the original story. I also think it is a powerful point when Julia learns that what she thought was "too Korean" really turns out to be something that is just as American as growing corn or raising cattle. It really shows the integration of ethnicity is the framework for what is American. I would recommend this book for reading in the fifth through eighth grade classrooms.