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1001 Cranes


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About the Author

Naomi Hirahara is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai adult mystery series and several nonfiction books on Japanese history. She lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband. This is her first novel for young readers. You can visit her at


Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Angela Kato is not thrilled at the prospect of leaving her home in a San Francisco suburb in order to spend the summer with her disapproving Grandma Michi, her strange Aunt Janet, and her good-natured grandfather in their unattractive, crowded house in smog-filled Los Angeles. Her time will be spent folding origami "1001-cranes displays," considered good luck for weddings, for her grandparents' business. Besides missing her friends, Angela knows that her parents are separating again, and that her dad has already rented an apartment. Once in LA, Angela meets several new people who have burdens of their own. A younger girl, Rachel, has just been adopted, and Angela observes that her grandmother acts far more lovingly to this child than she does to Angela. Next door, two sisters-in-law seem to hate each other even while they are involved in planning a celebration for their parents-in-law. Unexpectedly, Angela meets a boy who wants to date her, and she tries to keep him a secret from her watchful family. Her colorful, bold voice captures the excitement of her first love as well as the anxiety of not understanding the many secrets of the adults around her. By experiencing her family's support, by learning about her Japanese heritage, and by acknowledging the various ways that love is expressed, Angela emerges into a strong, caring person.-Lillian Hecker, Town of Pelham Public Library, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In her first book for young readers, Edgar-winner Hirahara examines ruptured relationships and reinforced cultural heritage. Twelve-year-old Angela, the narrator, has been sent to spend the summer with her maternal grandparents outside Los Angeles, originally because her parents need to address the problems in their relationship. She's uncomfortable around stern Grandma Michi, an expert on things Japanese--unlike her much warmer paternal grandmother, Baa-chan, who even with that name claims to be "100 percent American." Taught that displays of 1001 paper cranes have become a Japanese-American wedding tradition, Angela is put to work folding cranes for her grandmother's business. Hirahara writes lyrically of folding (at one stage the paper "resembles a gold kite waiting to be released in the wind"), and as Angela learns that her father has moved out, origami convincingly becomes a "medicine." Throughout the summer she becomes privy to the secret wounds in other people's hearts (a tough bride, an older neighbor, her own mother and, finally, Grandma Michi), and sustains a mild injury to her own. Although some story lines resolve too neatly, readers will respond to Angela's contemporary voice as she discovers the value of evolving traditions. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"A wonderfully engaging and poignant novel about a revered Japanese-American custom that transforms the life of a lost young girl." --Cynthia Kadohata, Newbery Award-winning author of Kira-Kira

"A contemplative story."--Booklist

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