HALF SPOON OF RICE by Icy Smith

HALF SPOON OF RICE

A Survival Story of the Cambodian Genocide
by and illustrated by
Age Range: 10 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

This fictionalized first-person account of a young boy in Cambodia during the reign of the Khmer Rouge may be perplexing in package but is very important in education. Nine-year-old Nat and his family are forced to leave their home and march with millions of other Cambodians to harsh labor camps. They work in rice fields from dawn until midnight, often only surviving—as the title indicates—on a half spoon of rice per day. Uneven in quality and at times contradictory to the text, Nhem’s shadowy oil paintings depict the horrors of war: soldiers with pointed guns and fallen bodies on the path. But courage and hope prevail. Nat finds a friend, and after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge, he is reunited with his family. Though not exemplary and certainly not for the younger picture-book set, this story could find a home as a read-aloud in middle-school lessons on discrimination or higher-level explorations of genocide. An extensive author’s note provides detailed historical context and archival photographs at the end; there are no source notes beyond an acknowledgment to the Documentation Center of Cambodia. (map, foreword) (Picture book. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9821675-8-8
Page count: 44pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2009