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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Popular but controversial book continues to stir emotions


Some people have been inspired to write Globe West after a Nov. 12 article about the debate in Dover-Sherborn over the award-winning book “So Far From the Bamboo Grove.”

After some parents complained the book was racist and too graphic for 6th graders, a committee of mostly administrators and teachers voted to recommend removing the book from the 6th grade curriculum. The School Committee, which has the final say, is mulling what to do.

The book is told through the eyes of an 11-year-old as she tries to escape with her family from Korea to Japan after WWII. Her family is being pursued because her father was a Japanese government offical and Koreans are lashing out after Japanese occupation of their country for more than three decades.

Alex Hudson, now 15, wrote in about his experience reading the book as a 6th grader at Dover-Sherborn. “I did not think once, ‘Oh, these Koreans are wicked for doing this,’ but rather, ‘Oh, this poor girl!’ he wrote. “It gave me and many of my peers a view not just on the adverse effects of this war on Yoko Kawashima Watkins, but also the effects of any war on any single person or family.”

Wellesley parent Larry Juckett wrote in about his concerns from a decade ago when his child was reading the book as a 6th grader. “I found the references to a baby being bathed in urine and a dead baby being ripped from a mother's arms and thrown from the box car on which they were being transported very disturbing,” he wrote. “... I wasn't trying to have books burned, but perhaps not all 12-year-olds need to learn this and maybe the book could be ‘saved’ until they are in high school.”

What do you think about this controversy? Voice your opinion on the Globe West message boards.--Lisa Kocian

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