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Every day nine-year-old Binh sells fruit and sodas to the girls whose families can afford to send them to school, and every night she returns to her one-room home to share a simple meal with her family. Everything changes, however, when her grandmother tells Binh she had a daughter during the war, a child ...
Every day nine-year-old Binh sells fruit and sodas to the girls whose families can afford to send them to school, and every night she returns to her one-room home to share a simple meal with her family. Everything changes, however, when her grandmother tells Binh she had a daughter during the war, a child who was sent away to America as a little girl. Now Di Hai — Binh’s aunt, a teacher — is coming to visit, and Binh can’t help but wonder what luxurious gifts she will bring.
Yet when Di Hai arrives, there are so many confusing things about her: she’s taller than the men, she’s not married, and her presents are mere trinkets that could have come from Third Aunt’s tourist shop! Still, Binh secretly hopes Di Hai will take her to live in America. Can her aunt live up to her expectations? Carolyn Marsden tells Binh’s story with warmth and sensitivity as she ushers readers into the life and dreams of a young Vietnamese girl.
Vietnamese and American cultural assumptions are woven seamlessly into the plot in this accessible and inviting story. Nine-year-old Binh is fascinated to know that she has an American aunt, who at age five was sent to the U.S. as part of Operation Babylift. Now Di, 35, comes to Vietnam to visit her birth mother and other relatives. Binh knows that all Americans are rich and imagines her aunt taking her home with her to live in the house that looks so enormous in photos. Binh, too poor to attend school, is embarrassed to tell her aunt that she helps her family eke out a living by selling fruit from a cart, and Di knows little of Vietnamese culture. With some final, brave efforts at communicating, Binh finally helps Di sort out what is and isn't offensive in Vietnam, and the tension is dispelled. Direct language, a balance of simple and complex sentences, and a generous use of white space will pull in younger readers, giving them more depth than is typical in early chapter books. Despite unfamiliar words and a rather large cast of characters, the story of Binh and her family shines through the spare text, creating a welcome chance to experience another culture. Pair this with Andrea Warren's Escape from Saigon (Farrar, 2004) for a nonfiction look at the same topic.
—Faith BrautigamCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Suddenly, Ba Ngoai folded her hands in her lap, chaining them together, fingers locked. "I have important news. My daughter is coming to see me." She pulled herself up very tall.
Binh looked around the room. Daughter? Ma was right here. Whoever could Ba Ngoai be talking about?
WHEN HEAVEN FELL by Carolyn Marsden. Copyright © 2007 by Carolyn Marsden. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
Posted January 3, 2012
Posted February 12, 2008
Every child, no matter where they live, is consequently drawn into the financial and social dilemmas of their society. In 'When Heaven Fell', nine-year-old Binh is no exception. Made to sell fruit and drinks from a cart on the streets of her home in Vietnam to earn extra money for her family, she hides her face when the girls whose families can afford to send them to school stop to buy her fruit. She stares with envy as the older girls ride their bikes while wearing beautiful flowing dresses. Binh watches American films in awe believing all Americans are wealthy, and dreams of being part of such an exciting and care free world. Binh, along with her entire extended family, look for hope when her grandmother reveals that a daughter she had given up for adoption has located her and is coming to visit from America. With great anticipation, they await the treasures and stories she will bring, and even dream of returning to America with her. When Thao arrives, Binh¿s dreams and wishes quickly vanish, and instead she learns about a culture other than her own. Money and gifts do not create instant happiness, no matter what land or what culture you are from. Belonging and being loved are created from something else. Carolyn Marsden teaches this lesson through the moving and captivating story, 'When Heaven Fell'.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 14, 2009
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