ONION TEARS by Diana Kidd


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 10
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 A Vietnamese refugee unfolds the events that brought her to Australia. She's now living with ``Auntie'' (not a relative), a kindly restaurant owner, and her helper Chu Minh, who ``has only had hunger and sadness all his life.'' Thoughtlessly cruel, most of the other children tease Nam-Huong about her name, the food she brings for lunch, and even her withdrawn silence (helping Auntie, Nam chops onions and weeps ``onion tears...I wish I could cry real ones''). Gradually, as Nam begins to reach out, she reveals--in an understated narrative interspersed with poignant letters to animals she remembers from her homeland--her yearning for her lost family and her traumatic escape by boat with her grandfather, who died during a long, terrible crossing. When her beloved teacher falls ill, it seems that Nam may suffer still another loss. Instead, Miss Lily's recovery makes it possible at last for Nam to confide her pent-up grief. This profoundly moving novel perceptively and convincingly re-creates what one child might have experienced, confronting her troubles without self-pity. In spare, lyrical prose, Kidd portrays Nam with skillfully chosen detail that's sure to evoke empathy. Unusually appealing small format with many attractive b&w drawings. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-531-05870-0
Page count: 62pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991