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A SONG FOR CAMBODIA by Michelle Lord


by Michelle Lord & illustrated by Shino Arihara

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60060-139-2
Publisher: Lee & Low

A sensitive reconstruction, based both on published sources and several original interviews, of the childhood experiences of Arn Chorn-Pond. A Cambodian who was separated from his musical family when Khmer Rouge soldiers swept through his village, Chorn-Pond survived by learning to play the stringed khim in a brutal work camp, escaped when Vietnam invaded in 1979 and was ultimately adopted by an American rescue worker. Lord opens with a historical overview, closes with an afterword on Chorn-Pond’s later return to his native land to initiate ongoing efforts to reclaim its musical heritage and in between tells his tale in simple language, leaving explicit violence offstage. Though her narrative is sometimes overwritten—when the Khmer Rouge came, “songbirds stopped chirping and monks were silenced”—it effectively captures the terror and tension of life under the Pol Pot regime. Arihara crafts somber scenes in broad brushstrokes to illustrate this important story of devastation and rebuilding in Southeast Asia. (multimedia resource list) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)