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by Dia Cha

illustrated by Chue Cha and Nhia Thao Cha


School Library Journal:

Gr 3-6- An interesting and unusual title that resists neat categorization. The main body of the book, a first-person narrative in picture-book format, is illustrated with details from a Hmong story cloth designed and embroidered by the author’s aunt and uncle. One double-page spread shows the cloth in its entirety. The rhythmic composition depicts lines of small figures, viewed from above, flowing around trees and buildings, across the landscape of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. Cha’s family lived happily as mountain farmers in Laos until the `60s, when the country was divided by war. Her father joined the loyalists and disappeared. Fleeing the fighting, the author’s family ended up in a refugee camp in Thailand. Her story ends with their emigration to America. A four-page encyclopedic description of the Hmong people and the importance of textile arts to their culture follows Cha’s narrative, along with a bibliography. Part autobiography, part history, part description of a changing culture adapting life and art to new circumstances, the book serves as a brief introduction to the Hmong people. A good supplement would be Blia Xiong’s Nine-in-One, Grr! Grr! (Children’s Book Pr., 1989), a retelling of a Hmong folktale, with illustrations influenced by the Hmong story cloth, a new kind of folk art created in refugee camps.-Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Autobiography, Family, Refugee Camp