A Song for CambodiaAuthor Michelle Lord Illustrated by Shino Arihara ISBN 9781600601392 Binding Trade Cloth Publisher Lee & Low Books Publication Date August 28, 2009 Size 216 x 267 mm
When Arn was a young boy in Cambodia, his days were filled with love, laughter, and the sweet sounds of music. That all changed suddenly in 1975 when Arn's village was invaded by Khmer Rouge soldiers and his family was torn apart.
Nine-year-old Arn was taken to a children's work camp, where he labored long hours in the rice fields under the glaring eyes of threatening soldiers. Overworked, underfed, and in constant fear for his life, Arn had to find a way to survive. When guards asked for volunteers to play music one day, Arn bravely raised his hand-taking a chance that would change the course of his life.
A Song for Cambodia is the inspirational true story of Arn Chorn-Pond. His heartfelt music created beauty in a time of darkness and turned tragedy into healing.
"A sensitive reconstruction . . . [A Song for Cambodia] effectively captures the terror and tension of life under the Pol Pot regime. Arihara crafts somber scenes in broad brushstrokes to illustrate this important story of devastation and rebuilding in Southeast Asia."
"[A Song for Cambodia] offers an age-appropriate view of a subject rarely visited in children's books."
"Gouache paintings underscore the changing mood of Chorn-Pond's story. The beginning scene depicts him playing with his siblings against a light blue sky. Later, the colors turn darker, underlining the horrors of the prison camp. The final spread shows Chorn-Pond smiling in a bright room, playing the khim for his new American family. . . . Use this solid picture-book biography with Jen Bryant's Music for the End of Time (Eerdmans, 2005), another story about triumphing over suffering with the help of music."
School Library Journal
"Prewar Cambodia offered an almost idyllic boyhood to Arn Chorn, but the Khmer Rouge turned his world upside down, separating him from his family and sending Arn to a work camp. He survived the camp by learning to play the khim, a traditional Cambodian instrument. Sent to fight the Vietnamese, Arn fled to the jungle, fell ill, woke up in a refugee camp, nearly drowned in a flood, and was rescued and brought to the U.S. by Reverend Peter Pond who adopted him. Through music, Arn slowly adjusted to his new country but promised to return to Cambodia. An afterword describes his subsequent efforts to assist war survivors and revive traditional Cambodian arts and music. Filled with drama and tragedy, this picturebook biography skillfully telescopes Arn's tumultuous boyhood. Realistic gouache illustrations depict the terrors of war but refrain from showing graphic violence. Amazing and inspiring, this biography is an excellent choice for multicultural studies." "
Society of School Librarians International
Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, Honor Book
Grades 1 - 6
Grades 4 and up
Adoption, Asian/Asian American Interest, Biography, Coping with Death, Discrimination, Music, Overcoming Obstacles, War, Poverty
Shino Arihara is a full-time illustrator who was born in the United States and grew up in Japan. She felt an immediate connection to Arn Chorn-Pond's story because a close friend, and fellow artist, went through a similar experience when he lived in Cambodia. "I wanted to do this book for him," says Arihara. She lives with her husband, a musician, in Redwood City, California.