Mitali Perkins writes across culture. Her stories bring to life the struggles kids from different races, cultures, and backgrounds experience when they are immersed in a world dominated by people who are different.
Bamboo People is a powerful example. The first half is told from the perspective of a Burmese boy who is recruited, against his will, into the Burmese army. The second half is told from the perspective of a Karenni boy, one of the tribal people the Burmese are persecuting, living in a refugee camp in Thailand. Just imagine what happens when their worlds collide.
One of the extraordinary things about Bamboo People is how easily the reader can identify with both boys. You get inside their heads, see the conflict from both sides, come to understand why the Burmese and Karenni behave the way they do. This book not only opens a reader's eyes and mind to current world events, it also provides a window of insight into why events unfold as they do.
And yet this is a middle grade book. The characters are dealing with war, yes, but they are also dealing with issues of friendship, budding romance, and finding their place in the world. It's a remarkable book, hard to put down, and one I highly recommend reading.
What books with multicultural perspectives have you enjoyed? Do we need more books like these?