Little Cricket by Jackie Brown caught my eye a few weeks ago while visiting my friend Michelle at her library. I reserved a copy from the public library for myself and read it quickly last night.
Kia and her family are living in Laos at the beginnign of this novel. However, war in their country causes them to flee their homes and eventually find shelter in a refugee camp. Kia, her brother Xigi, and their grandfather are granted permission to move to the United States. A church in Minnesota is sponsoring them and will help them adjust to this new life. Unfortunately Mother and Grandmother's paperwork has been misfiled and the two women must remain at the refugee camp while things get sorted out.
Life in America is not easy. Grandfather finds learning new things hard, and Kia often finds him gazing out of the window. Xigi, now an adolescent, is breaking away from his family, and is often gone late into the evening. Kia and her grandfather plant their own garden and try to sell their crop at the local farmer's market, saving money to help reunite their family.
Told in Kia's voice, Little Cricket (as Kia is called) learns a great deal about herself, about starting over, and about what is really important in life.
This book is aimed at 4th-6th graders, told by Brown in a way that middle grade readers will understand. I appreciated the authors' note at book's end explaining why Kia and her family had to flee their country. While my school does not have a Hmong population, I have friends who teach in Wisconsin where there is a large population of Hmong immigrants. Although their story is not the same as that of other immigrant groups, the themes in this book will resonate with anyone coming to a new home.