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  Project Mulberry
Project Mulberry
Project Mulberry
Clarion Books, 2005
Ages 9 and up


“Park creates a Korean-American seventh-grader so lifelike she jumps off the page....introduces many issues relevant to budding adolescents.” —Publishers Weekly

“A rich work that treats serious issues with warmth, respect, and a good deal of humor.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Julia Song is a delightful character introduced in this novel by Linda Sue Park. A seventh grader, Julia and her family have just moved to Plainfield, Illinois where they are the only Korean-American family in the neighborhood. Julia and Patrick become friends and need a ribbon-winning project idea for the state fair. Julia's mom suggests they raise silkworms, but Julia initially rejects the idea because she wants a more American project and thinks that raising silkworms will label her as Asian with all of her new friends, and she doesn't want to be identified with her culture. Julia accepts the project and is able to overcome the obstacles facing its implementation. Along the way, she learns to be proud of her heritage and value Patrick's friendship. At the end of each chapter, Julia holds a discussion with Park about the direction the novel must take and why certain things have to happen. Listeners interested in how authors construct a plot will find these segments intriguing, but it might interrupt the flow of the story for others. A question and answer session with the author concludes the tapes. Park is popular with the middle school crowd, and this contemporary tale would be a good addition to school and public library collections.” —Joyce Rice, School Library Journal, starred review

There are big issues in Park's latest novel—conservation, prejudice, patriotism, biology, and more. But the Newbery-winning writer never allows them to swamp the story; in fact, it's the compelling characters and their passionate differences and commitments that drive the plot. Julia Song doesn't want to do a silkworm project for the state fair. It's too Korean; she wants something American. But she becomes interested in caring for the eggs, the caterpillars, and the moths and then in sewing the silk thread. Kind, elderly Mr. Dixon donates the mulberry leaves the silkworms eat, but why is Mom against Julia spending time with him? Is it because he is black? The first-person narrative alternates with lively interchanges between Julia ("Me") and the author ("Ms. Park") about writing the story. The author's intrusion may distract some readers, but most children will be hooked by the funny, insightful conversations. There's no easy resolution, but the unforgettable family and friendship story, the quiet, almost unspoken racism, and the excitement of the science make this a great cross-curriculum title.” —Hazel Rochman, Booklist, starred review

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