Who Belongs Here?: An American Story

Who Belongs Here?: An American Story

by Margy Burns Knight, Anne Sibley O'Brien
     
 
Nary is a young boy fleeing war-torn Cambodia for safety in the U.S. To some of his classmates, however, he is a “chink” who should go back to where he belongs. But what if everyone whose family came from another place was forced to return to his or her homeland? Who would be left? Nary helps his class perform a lesson that teaches compassion for recent

Overview

Nary is a young boy fleeing war-torn Cambodia for safety in the U.S. To some of his classmates, however, he is a “chink” who should go back to where he belongs. But what if everyone whose family came from another place was forced to return to his or her homeland? Who would be left? Nary helps his class perform a lesson that teaches compassion for recent immigrants and tolerance.In this probing, plain-spoken book, based on a true story, Margy Burns Knight and Anne Sibley O'Brien, author and illustrator of the acclaimed "Talking Walls," invite young readers to explore the human implications of intolerance. Anecdotes relating the experiences of other refugees and their contributions to American culture play counterpoint to Nary's tale, all enlivened by O'Brien's full-color pastels. A compendium at the end of the book offers more detailed information about Pol, Pot, Ellis Island, and other topics in this text.Who Belongs Here? will lead to discussions aboutThe effects of war on children and familiesRefugees and relocation processes in the U.S.Cambodian cultureU.S. History and attitudes towards immigrationBullying and intoleranceConflict-resolution skills

Editorial Reviews

Diane S. Marton
“Grade 3-5-Drawing on her experience as an ESL teacher, Knight introduces the fictional character Nary, a 10-year-old boy from Cambodia.
Accompanying his story of leaving his homeland and settling in this country is a parallel text, set in italics, that expands some of the ideas presented. Sometimes it provides background information on U.S.
immigration or history; at other times it serves to stimulate discussion, particularly on such topics as intolerance and prejudice.
Notes in the back give additional material on individuals (Pol Pot, Dith
Pran, Dolores Huerta) and concepts introduced earlier. Three-quarters of each double-page spread is covered with brightly colored,
impressionistic pastel illustrations. Unfortunately, the texts do not blend well. Nary's story is choppy; the italicized portions are often superficial and not always relevant. For information strictly on
Cambodian immigrants, consult Nancy Graff's Where the River Runs
(Little, 1993).Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.”
Annie Ayers - Booklist
“Gr. 4-7. After escaping the killing fields of Cambodia and living in a refugee camp in Thailand, 10-year-old Nary (a composite character drawn from students that Knight has known as an ESL teacher) is now adjusting to his new home in the U.S. The amount of food in the grocery stores amazes him, and he likes eating pizza and ice cream. But sometimes his classmates are mean to him, calling him names and telling him to "get back on the boat and go home where you belong." In counterpoint to
Nary's story, Knight includes information about other refugees and their contributions to the U.S. and challenges readers to confront difficult questions about immigration, racism, and multiculturalism: "What if everyone who now lives in the U.S., but whose ancestors came from another country, was forced to return to his or her homeland?" This book is similar to the author and illustrator's other collaborative effort, Talking Walls
(1992), in that Knight's text compassionately explores the complex issues and O'Brien's full-color pastel illustrations personalize the experiences of Nary and other new Americans. An attractive and telling picture book that provokes a dynamic dialogue about one of the most fundamental questions before our country. Annie Ayers”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Following their well-received Talking Walls , Knight and O'Brien again team up for an affectionate if didactic exploration of connections among people world-wide. This time the message is filtered through the experience of Nary, a Cambodian refugee who immigrates to the U.S. with his grandmother after the death of both parents. Hostility toward immigrants and the impetus to work for change are explored. The central question, ``What if everyone . . . whose ancestors came from another country was forced to return to his or her homeland? . . . Who would be left?'' signals the book's design as a vehicle for discussion. The text itself pairs Nary's story with italicized information on immigration to the U.S. This strategy is only intermittently effective; younger readers may not be capable of making the conceptual jumps both Knight and O'Brien require, while older readers may chafe at the picture-book format. These limitations notwithstanding, the volume provides strong starting points for ongoing explorations of multicultural themes. Ages 7-13. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Drawing on her experience as an ESL teacher, Knight introduces the fictional character Nary, a 10-year-old boy from Cambodia. Accompanying his story of leaving his homeland and settling in this country is a parallel text, set in italics, that expands some of the ideas presented. Sometimes it provides background information on U.S. immigration or history; at other times it serves to stimulate discussion, particularly on such topics as intolerance and prejudice. Notes in the back give additional material on individuals (Pol Pot, Dith Pran, Dolores Huerta) and concepts introduced earlier. Three-quarters of each double-page spread is covered with brightly colored, impressionistic pastel illustrations. Unfortunately, the texts do not blend well. Nary's story is choppy; the italicized portions are often superficial and not always relevant. For information strictly on Cambodian immigrants, consult Nancy Graff's Where the River Runs (Little, 1993).-Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780884481690
Publisher:
Tilbury House Publishers
Publication date:
06/28/2003
Pages:
30
Sales rank:
505,406
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
8 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Margy Burns Knight has received the National Education Association’s
Author-Illustrator Human & Civil Rights Award for the body of her work with Anne Sibley O'Brien (Talking Walls and other books) and the
2001 Children's Africana Book Award for Africa Is Not a Country (also illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien). In addition to her work as an author, presenting in hundreds of classrooms around the world, Margy is also a teacher and community volunteer. She is the Service Learning
Coordinator for the Winthrop, Maine, public school system and has taught
English as a Second Language to high school students from Cambodia,
Afghanistan, and Jordan.

Anne Sibley O’Brien has illustrated thirty-one books, including five titles by Margy Burns Knight. She is also the author of fourteen of these books, including The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of
Korea, and A Path of Stars.O’Brien’s passion for global subjects was kindled by her experience of being raised bilingual and bicultural in
South Korea as the daughter of medical missionaries. The mother of two grown children, she lives with her husband on an island in Maine.

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