Bamboo People
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Bamboo People

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,355 ratings  ·  302 reviews

Bang! A side door bursts open. Soldiers pour into the room. They're shouting and waving rifles. I shield my head with my arms. It was a lie! I think, my mind racing.

Girls and boys alike are screaming. The soldiers prod and herd some of us together and push the rest apart as if we're cows or goats. Their leader is a middle—aged man. He's moving slowly, intently, not dashing

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Charlesbridge Publishing
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Out of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperFinally by Wendy MassMockingbird by Kathryn ErskineCountdown by Deborah WilesBecause of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
Mock Newbery 2010/2011
30th out of 74 books — 189 voters
Mockingjay by Suzanne CollinsClockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareCrescendo by Becca FitzpatrickTorment by Lauren KateHalo by Alexandra Adornetto
Top YA of 2010
55th out of 99 books — 237 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,922)
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Landon Kintner
Aug 26, 2014 Landon Kintner rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: friend
Recommended to Landon by: library
Bamboo People is one of the best books I have read ever. I recommend this book to everyone. My favorite part of the book is the second part of the book because it is so suspenseful. I usually get bored during long books, but this one made me want to keep reading. I liked how in the middle of the book, it was written from a different character's perspective than in the first half.

Bamboo People takes place in Burma, in the jungles, in today's time. Chiko is Burmese, and Tu Reh is Karenni. Their pe...more
This novel, set in modern day Burma, is about two child soldiers—both from very different backgrounds—who are forced to take part in the military’s action against the Karenni people, an ethnic minority in Burma. The first part of the story, told in first person narrative, tells the tale of Chiko, a boy from an educated middle class background whose father has been imprisoned by the government. Chiko is forced to join the army and train to fight the soldiers of the Karenni resistance. On a missio...more
Francesca Forrest
I was interested in this for the subject matter and for paying attention to the nuts and bolts of how Mitali Perkins introduced cultural elements and wove together the stories of her two protagonists--Chiko, a Burmese boy from Yangon who's dragooned into the army against his will, and Tu Reh, a Karenni boy living in a refugee camp near the Thai border.

I liked all the characters, both the main ones and the supporting ones, very much, and I felt the emotional growth of both boys was believable an...more
May 02, 2014 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: asian
Life is not easy in war torn Burma for Chiko and his mother since the government took his father and accused him of being a traitor. Chiko doesn’t believe in the fight that the Burmese government is fighting against the Karenni people, but he is captured by the government and forced to join the army and fight for the Burmese cause. The Karenni rebels end up capturing Chiko and the task of watching over Chiko falls on a young Karenni boy named Tu Reh. This relationship puts Tu Reh in a difficult...more
A really interesting story narrated by two young boys from both sides of the conflict in Burma (Myanmar).
This is a very interesting book that highlights the political situation in Burma (Myanmar). It focuses on two boys, Chiko, a Burmese boy who is conscripted into the Burmese army, and Tu Reh, a Karenni youth who lives in a refugee camp on the border of Burma and Thailand. Before reading this book, I knew very little about what is currently going on in Burma. The country has an oppressive government that is waging war with different tribal or native people. I especially appreciated how the author...more
Barb Middleton
Fifteen-year-old Burmese teen, Chiko, wants to be a teacher, but the government wants him to be a soldier. Forced against his will to join the army, Chiko learns to survive with the help of his street-wise friend, Tai. In the book, Bamboo People, by Mitali Perkins the issues of human rights and prejudices toward minorities are explored in the country of Burma/Myanmar.

Chiko is an intelligent, kind boy whose father, a doctor, has been imprisoned for resisting the government. Tai who befriends Chik...more
The book I just read was called Bamboo People: a novel. This gripping novel takes place in the shoes of a young 15 year old boy who lives in Burma: a Texas sized country near India that’s in a civil war. The main character, Chiko, lives with his mother in the city. His father who was wrongfully arrested for being a traitor to their country is an inspiration throughout the novel “I’d do anything to get him out of prison”(Chicko). After he is arrested he and his mother are struggling to get by so...more
Bamboo People follows two teenage boys, Chiko and Tu Reh. They are from two opposing sides of an on going war being fought in Burma. Chiko's father was taken by the Burmese government, and even though Chiko was angry he never let his anger become bigger than his want for peace. With his father being gone in the war, all schools being closed, and needing to feed himself and his mother, Chiko risks his life to apply for a teaching position. While waiting in line to apply, Chiko is forced into army...more
Dec 05, 2012 Ed added it
Perkins, Mitali. (2010). Bamboo People. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. 272 pp. ISBN 978-1-58089-328-2 (Hard Cover); $16.95.

Tu Reh has been waiting a long time to kill Burmese soldiers who massacred his people. When his travel in the bamboo forests of Burma places Chiko in his path, Tu Reh finally has his opportunity.

Providing readers with an age appropriate look at what it means to be a soldier is one of the notable features of this finely paced adventure story. It also manages to convey quite a...more
Jul 13, 2013 Myhiah added it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: Intermediate

Genre: Historical Fiction

Discussion Questions:
REMEMBER: Who were the main characters?
- The two main characters were Chiko and Tu Reh.
UNDERSTAND: Describe what happened in the story up until the perspective of Tu Reh’s starts.
- It begins by Chiko getting scolded by his mother for reading a book outside. Chiko has been in his house, not leaving, since his father was taken by the Burmese military. Him and his mother are losing money everyday and Chiko wants to help out....more
Dec 14, 2013 Lucas added it
***Spoiler Alert***

Imagine living in a world where civil war is going on how does that make you feel if you have a heart you would feel sad and very unhappy. In this realistic fiction book two boys create a best-friend relationship and how learn to work together. In the book Chiko's dad is arrested for having a for providing medical treatment to the enemy. Later Chiko is arrested and is forced to serve as a soldier for the same government that put his father in prison. Later on Chiko meets Tu Re...more
This book, set in modern-day Burma, is narrated by two teenage boys on opposite sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities. It explores the nature of violence, power, and prejudice as seen through the eyes of child soldiers and refugees. Two Burmese boys, one a Karenni refugee and the other the son of an imprisoned Burmese doctor, meet in the jungle and in order to survive they must learn to trust each other. Tu Reh, an angry Karenni b...more
A Burmese teenager is conscripted as a child soldier and forced to hunt down Karenni rebels. He later encounters a Karenni teenager who yearns to fight for the rebels and they both must learn what's worth fighting for. It's a powerful look at the conflict raging in Burma, which has resulted in 150,000 refugees from various minority cultures in Burma, living in camps on the Thailand border and 50,000 refugees that have been relocated to the U.S. (My church has a large population of Karen refugees...more
Abby Johnson
Fifteen year old Chiko is tricked into joining the Burmese army. Tu Reh is a Karenni boy, trapped between wanting to fight the soldiers that destroyed his home and wanting to promote peace as his religious teachings dictate. In the middle of the Burmese jungle, these two boys will meet and neither will ever be the same.

While I appreciate that this is a book that will help raise the consciousness of readers, it just wasn't my cup of tea. There was a lot of talking and not as much action as I exp...more
Set against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma, Bamboo People explores the power of courage and compassion to overcome violence and prejudice. Chiko, a 16 year old Burmese boy, is an educated teenager who would much rather fight than study when he is abducted and turned into a fighter for the Burmese army against the tribal peoples they are trying to eradicate. Out on a mission with four other young men, he encounters ToReh a 16 year old Karenni refugee who is fighting with...more
Amy Lynn
This was a fantastic Caudill nominee. I don't think it'll win, but it was great. I knew nothing about it when I started it. I couldn't read the back because I was reading it on the iPad. It takes place in Burma/Thailand and is from two points of view. Part one is from a Burmese boy. Part two is from his enemy. Part two is a continuation of part one. That was neat. So much to talk about here. It would be a great book to teach. Is your grade level them change? Conflict? Perfect! Questions will ari...more
Cory Mccune
Audience: Intermediate
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Remembering - What had happened to Chiko's father before the start of the book?
Understanding - Why do you think this book is called "Bamboo People?"
Applying - What would you have done in Tu Reh's place when he found the injured Chiko?
Analyzing - How do the Karenni fighters differ from the Burmese soldiers? How are they alike?
Evaluating - Who is the strongest character in this book and why do you think that? Chiko? Tu Reh? Tai? Sa Reh? Nya M...more
Nov 18, 2010 Nan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
A rather simplistic but effective introduction to the Burmese/Myanmar civil war, marked by the use of kidnapped boys to fight for the military against the oppressed tribal minorities. The first half of the story is told by Chiko, the son of a doctor enprisoned for resisting the military takeover of the government. Chiko is tricked and taken to fight for the army. The second half of the book is told by Tu Reh, a member of the Karenni tribe, fighting to save their homeland and way of life. Tu Reh...more
I really like how they had two perspectives in the book, it was really cool to see how two different people thought about things. What I really liked was when they met in the book.

It is about Chiko, he lives with his mother in a house and he is not allowed to go outside because the soldiers will take him and make him a part of the army. His dad is in prison for not wanting to be a solider, and Chiko is really worried.

The other perspective is from a boy that is on the other country, helping his d...more
Mitzi Moore
The freshman team at my school choose this 2010 book as the summer assignment for the incoming class. We like the themes of the book: child soldiers, landmines, and coming of age in a developing country with a military dictatorship in power. During the first week of school, we will be connecting our lessons to the book, as well as following up on assignments the students will be completing over the summer.

As this book was written for young adults, more advanced readers may find parts of the book...more
Ann Marie
perfect book for the middle schooler !!!! I see many people recommend this for high school reading but I do not feel there is enough 'action' for this grouping...a decent read regarding Burma and its military issues...told from the young teen who lost his father to the military police who took him away because he resisted the government views...the teen is taken to be military and meets another teen whom he befriends...the two manage to use each other to get through their ordeals and in a rare h...more
This is one of those books that is terrific for a discussion group. Comparing two different
cultures and perspectives, Bamboo People introduces its readers to the present-day conflict that is occurring in Manymar, which was once Burma. Raising interesting points, Perkins shows different aspects to Chiko and Tu Reh. From questioning that being book smart is not always worldly, while having compassion can make you a stronger person, whether you like it or not. Even Tu Reh’s and Chiko’s relationshi...more
Garrett Meyers
Bamboo People is a book about two kids who grew up with their country at war. Chiko is on the Burmese side of the war and Tu Reh is on the Karenni side. They both experience very different lifestyles and unlikely circumstances have them meet in the jungle. Chiko grew up with a talented doctor for a father and was one of the few kids with an education. When meeting up at the site to attempt to become a teacher, he is forced into the army by Burmese soldiers where he learns to survive camp. After...more
"Bamboo People" is the story of two teenage boys on opposite sides of a war, one tricked and forced to fight by the Burmese government, the other trying to prove himself to his father and the other members that he is loyal to the tribe.

As for my thoughts on the book, I was not originally intending on reading this book, as it does not seem to fit my particular interests but I was presently surprised. The novel is not too challenging of a book to read, but it is filled with characters who are lika...more
Bamboo People is a fiction survival-esque genre book full of culture that opens people's eyes to the situation in Burma, as the author hoped the book would do. A proven by the YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults award, Bamboo People is a well written and rich read.

The action takes place in modern day Burma, or Myanmar, and in a Karenni refugee camp along the Thai border. You can easily picture the busy streets of Yangon and the humid southern jungles near the refugee area, along the riv...more
Lena Takechi
Readers often look for books revolving around the topics of friendship, love, drama, war, and adventure. Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins includes a wide variety of interests, for all kinds of readers.
Bamboo People is about two teenage boys who are involved in the war occurring in Burma. They are from opposite sides of the conflict. The first section of the book is from the perspective of a studious boy, Chiko, who was tricked into war when applying for a job as a teacher. The second perspective...more
June 7, 2014
The Power of Friendship
By: Emma Richards
Bamboo People
Mitali Perkins

The novel, “Bamboo People,” by Mitali Perkins is set in modern day Burma, a country that has been engaged in civil war for over 65 years. The author tells the story from the perspectives of Chiko, a boy in the Burmese army, and of Tu Reh, a boy living in a rebel camp. Chiko, a fifteen year old boy who posseses a passion for learning, is forced into the Burmese army by trickery. During life as a recruit, Chiko meets...more
As the author of a YA book about children caught in war, I was eager to see how Mitali Perkins treats the subject. In a word—brilliantly. She uses two point-of-view characters, one Burmese and the other from the rebellious Karenni tribe, to show the experiences that have formed their points-of-view and to expose their common humanity. Both sides have been conditioned to hate the other and yet when they meet, each learns a different story of the “enemy”.

The Karenni people were evangelized by Amer...more
Olivia Margolis


This book written by Matali Perkins is about two boys named Chico and Tu Reh. It is in the middle of the Burmese war. Chico was taken into a war training camp by trickery and Tu Reh is trying to destroy the Burmese because they are the soilders who burned down his village.

Set in modern Burma, this novel is the story of two teen boys on opposite sides of the conflict between the Burmese and the Karenni, one of Burma’s ethnic minorities. Chiko’s father has been arrested for...more
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Mitali Perkins was born in Kolkata, India, and immigrated to the States when she was seven years old. She's written several books for young readers, including BAMBOO PEOPLE, RICKSHAW GIRL, MONSOON SUMMER, and SECRET KEEPER. She is also the editor of an anthology: OPEN MIC: RIFFS BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES. Mitali maintains a website ( and blog ( where she chats...more
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