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Eleven-year-old Noi worries that she will have to stop painting the silk umbrellas her family sells at the market near their Thai village and be forced to join her older sister in difficult work at a local factory instead.
On the third day, Noi took an umbrella of a soft brown color. She closed her eyes and listened for the scene as Kun Ya had taught her. She saw Kun Ya holding a stick of sugar cane out to an elephant. The elephant reached with its trunk.
Oh, but an elephant! How could the umbrella have asked her to paint something so difficult!
Slowly, Noi mixed different shades of gray in the bowls. The vision of the elephant had come to her, but she was afraid of spoiling the umbrella.
She closed her eyes again and looked inside until she could see the elephant in the jungle, could hear its thick feet in the long grass, the small snorts it made with its trunk.
Noi painted, forgetting about being afraid, keeping the image of the elephant steady within her.
When Kun Ya woke up, Noi showed her the brown umbrella, twirling it slowly in the gloom of the rainy afternoon. Kun Ya reached out, her hand hovering over the elephant, never touching the silk, but tracing the shapes that Noi had painted. "Someday soon, Noi, you'll be selling these umbrellas."
Noi's heart beat faster, as though it would strike its way out of her chest. She couldn't speak a word.
Posted June 9, 2014
I just graduated high school, but I remember details from reading this back in elementary school. A beautiful, memorable book that exposed me to the life and world of a little girl like me growing up in a far different place.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.