Shining the Light on Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins and a Spontaneous ARC Road Trip

Many of you know Mitali Perkins for her wonderful books or her wise advice on how to utilize social media to develop community and promote books. Perhaps you’re one of the authors Mitali cheers on with her successful Twitter Book Parties, a virtual “celebration of new books for kids, tweens and teens.” Or maybe you’ve seen Mitali act as an incredible advocate for many who feel voiceless, making us more aware of the need for children’s/YA books showing race/ethnicity and sharing her knowledge of multi-cultural books.

Charlesbridge Publishing gave me an ARC of BAMBOO PEOPLE, Mitali’s new book, due to be released in July 2010. As with all her books, Mitali writes with heart. BAMBOO PEOPLE is a special book, one I’d like to see children read to learn about other cultures, to understand the devastation of power and conflict, to believe in courage and friendship. Because Mitali does so much to help children’s writers, I wanted to do something to help her spread the word about BAMBOO PEOPLE. Inspired by Mary E. Pearson’s The Miles Between Road Trip, I give you the BAMBOO PEOPLE ARC Road Trip. You’ll find details about the Road Trip at the end of this post.

Interested in learning more about BAMBOO PEOPLE? Please welcome Mitali Perkins!

MITALI: Good novels serve as windows into other worlds as well as mirrors for our own lives. While I wrote BAMBOO PEOPLE to depict the lives of Karenni and Burmese young people, I also want readers to see themselves mirrored in the story by connecting deeply with the characters.

How can the book be a window?

For three years my husband, children, and I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand and 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. These young soldiers are taught that the Karenni and other ethnic groups are the cause of the problems in their country and are rewarded with money and food if they burn, destroy, torture, and kill ethnic minorities.

I wrote the book for readers to glimpse—and through the power of imagination, experience—what life is like for young people growing up in modern-day Burma.

How can the book be a mirror?

What would you do if your mother were hungry and your only option to feed her was to fight in the army? What about if you saw soldiers burning your home and farm while you ran for your life? Wouldn’t you be terrified, like Chiko? Wouldn’t you be angry, like Tu Reh?

In my travels far and wide, I’ve learned two things: all people feel powerful negative emotions, but we all face choices when it comes to acting on them. BAMBOO PEOPLE, I hope, illuminates the importance of those universal choices.

I hope you connect with Tu Reh and Chiko as you read BAMBOO PEOPLE. If you want to promote peace and democracy in Burma or help refugees fleeing from that country, please browse where I provide resources, an educator’s guide, and suggestions for involvement. Thanks, Vivian, for launching this exciting ARC tour. I can’t wait to see where the book travels!

BAMBOO PEOPLE ARC Road Trip!! If you’d like a chance to read BAMBOO PEOPLE and help celebrate Mitali’s new book, here are the details:

  • COMMENT below and let me know what U.S. state you live in–NO addresses please, just your state, ie: Massachusetts
  • FIVE (5) people will be selected to participate in the BAMBOO PEOPLE ARC Road Trip. I’ll map out the route and e-mail each person one address for mailing purposes.
  • READ the ARC and POST a review on your blog.
  • WRITE a message for Mitali in the ARC and MAIL it to the next person within 2 weeks. I haven’t had a chance to get the book weighed at the post office, but it should cost less than $5.00 at book rate.
  • THE final reader will send the ARC directly to Mitali!
  • DEADLINE for commenting is Monday, April 5th at 11pm EST.

Isn’t it easy? Let’s help Mitali spread the word about BAMBOO PEOPLE! Comment Away!

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Vivian Lee Mahoney

Consider yourself warned: I write books about rebels. I'm also a postergirlz for readergirlz, a literary advisory group for teens. Who knew going back to the teenage years would be so rewarding?

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