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A Path of Stars    by Anne Sibley O'Brien order for
Path of Stars
by Anne Sibley O'Brien
Order:  USA  Can
Charlesbridge, 2012 (2012)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This picture book for readers five years of age and older offers an introduction to a culture that is probably a mystery for most youngsters. The central character, Dara, often listens to the stories her grandmother, Lok Yeay, shares about their Cambodian homeland.

In the first part of the narrative the author repeats 'before the phone call came', which creates a sense of forewarning that something important is going to occur as the story unfolds. As Dara shares the recollections of her grandmother, the reader learns about the Cambodian New Year celebration and what life was like in the country before and after the war that forced the family to flee to Thailand and then America.

After Dara's parents and grandmother had settled in Maine, we learn that some family members did remain in Cambodia. Lok Ya, grandmother's brother, had returned to the family home village after the war ended. Of course, the plan was that one day the girl's grandmother would return to the country of her birth and visit her brother.

Then the phone call comes! It is Dara's cousins telling her family that Lok Ta has died. 'All the light went out of Lok Yeay's eyes. She slipped like a whisper into her bed,' Dara explains. 'She wouldn't speak, and she wouldn't get up, no matter what Mama did.'

Now it is up to Dara to try to console her grandmother and help her get over the terrible loss of such an important family member.

For a picture book this is a rather lengthy story, but the illustrations are excellent and this tale of family relationships, loss, and the memory of a past existence in another culture is well worth reading.

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