Seventh-graders Julia and Patrick are fast friends who do almost everything together. After joining a new club they are determined to come up with an outstanding project that will enable them to win at least one blue ribbon at the state fair. Usually they have good ideas and work well together. But this time they face several hurdles and cannot seem to agree on a plan. Julia's mother's idea of raising silkworms is enthusiastically accepted by Patrick. Julia thinks it reflects only her Korean heritage and is not "American" enough. When Mr. Maxwell, their advisor, approves the concept, Julia reluctantly goes along even though she secretly keeps putting obstacles in the way of success. Soon Julia gets totally caught up in the project. Along the way she and Patrick learn a great deal about silkworms, friendship, patience and tolerance. A unique addition to the novel is conversation between the author and Julia. It appears as dialogue in between the chapters. This is a funny and well-written story that should appeal to middle schoolers. 2005, Clarion Books, Ages 9 to 13.
Gr 4-7-When Julia Song moves with her family to Plainfield, IL, where they are the only Korean family in town, she becomes good friends with her neighbor Patrick. They have joined the Wiggle (Work-Grow-Give-Live) Club, and they need a project for the state fair. Animal husbandry is their category of choice, but what can they raise in their suburban neighborhood? When Julia's mother suggests silkworms, Patrick is enthusiastic, but Julia is not. Raising silkworms is so Korean, and she wants a real American project. Still, she agrees to the idea. When she realizes that to get the silk, the worms must die, her anguish clearly indicates how much her attitude has changed. At the end of almost every chapter, Park and her young protagonist discuss the story inside the story: where the author's ideas came from, how the characters take on a life of their own, how questions raised in the book continue to percolate inside some readers' minds when it is finished. This lively interaction provides an interesting parallel to the silkworm project as it moves from idea to reality. Julia, a feisty seventh grader, concludes that it is important to know what you don't know, an insight that she has as she grapples with her mother's attitude toward blacks. Park appropriately leaves Julia wondering what's behind her mother's prejudices in certain situations. As the novel progresses, Patrick and Julia negotiate the ups and downs of their friendship, and Julia begins to show a gradual change in attitude toward her younger brother. This skillfully written tale will have wide appeal.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
No obstacle, real or imagined, can stop Julia Song and her best friend Patrick from entering a community farming-club contest. The two friends decide to grow silkworms from eggs to pupae and spin the silk into thread. Between most chapters are vignettes-the story inside the story-in the form of discussions between the author and Julia, explaining the background for the story, how it developed and how Julia changes as the worms grow. Julia explores her anxiety about being "too Korean" and the confusing attitude about race that she sees when her mother meets Mr. Dixon, the older African-American man who generously shares his mulberry leaves with the children. The warm friendship between the two friends is the real story here-they work together, learn about silk, worms, embroidery, kimchee and life, make decisions about life and death (of the worms) and even learn to appreciate their sometimes irritating siblings. A rich work that treats serious issues with warmth, respect and a good deal of humor. (Fiction. 9-12)
"Compelling characters and their passionate differences...drive the plot...unforgettable family and friendship story...a great cross-curriculum title." BOOKLIST, starred Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"Park creates a Korean-American seventh-grader so lifelike she jumps off the page....introduces many issues relevant to budding adolescents." PW Publishers Weekly
"A rich work that treats serious issues with warmth, respect, and a good deal of humor." KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"This skillfully written tale will have wide appeal." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred School Library Journal, Starred
"Park has a sensitive ear for the nuances of self-doubt and burgeoning self-awareness that permeate junior-high experience." THE BULLETIN Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Julia is a vivacious character...provide[s] interesting glimpses into how fiction is written." HORN BOOK Horn Book