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Half Spoon of Rice: A Survival Story of the Cambodian Genocide
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Half Spoon of Rice: A Survival Story of the Cambodian Genocide

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Nine-year-old Nat and his family are forced from their home on April 17, 1975, marched for many days, separated from each other, and forced to work in the rice fields, where Nat concentrates on survival. Includes historical notes and photographs documenting the Cambodian genocide.
Hardcover, 42 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by East West Discovery Press
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Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I discussed this book's impact with my mother at length before writing this review. Its illustrations are the key part about it, although the story written by Icy Smith explains on each page. The penultimate pages from 38 on give far more information from the perspective of the Cambodians, Laotians, Thai, et al than I had known before opening the book from having studied the Vietnamese war and about Pol Pot.

How do you explain genocide to schoolchildren? Here it presents the Khmer Rouge, and how
Aug 01, 2019 added it
This picture book demonstrates what James Holzhauer of Jeopardy famed talked about during his winning streak- there is so much to be learned and in such a unique and thoughtful way that it's hard not to remember what is being discussed. This is true of this picture book about a survival story from the Cambodian Genocide.

Smith and Nhem explain what happened as the Khmer Rouge came into Phnom Penh to force everyone into the fields in order to make a strict communist society of peasant farmers far
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although a non-fiction picture book about the Khmer Rouge takeover in Cambodia may not sound like a snuggly bedtime read-a-loud, this is an important story. Told as gently as possible, children will glimpse families, who love each other, pulled apart by the ravages of war and egomaniacal leadership. And glimpse through a window a cultural legacy that is likely drastically different than their own.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of only a few children's books that I've ever seen that dealt with a topic like genocide. It was very carefully presented, and while it doesn't change the facts, it does make something as horrifying as genocide presentable to children. That's important and a nearly impossible task. I was impressed with the results here. ...more
Rebecca Caufman
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I had no idea this happened in is so sad people are so mean to each other.
Thomas Andrikus
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am quite knowledgeable on the history of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, so I find this illustrated children story book to be an impressive work of art (and partial-memoir).

Though the family in the story is a fictitious one, the family represented in the story represents the millions of Cambodian families who had to endure hard labour for 18 hours a day with only one meal a day...for nearly four years! And don't forget the fact that every Cambodian of that era had lost a family member or a friend thr
I didn't know what to expect from something in a short picture book format on a subject of this nature. Now that I've read it I'm not any more sure what I think of it than I was of what to expect. It's written in a manner of the picture books for young children of an age for which the subject would be of questionable value. Then it seems too short to really engage someone of the middle grade group it's marketed to. The story is just a short straightforward account. So I suppose the story works a ...more
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Hard to say I liked this book, when the topic is so horrific. The Cambodian genocide is a terrible, often-overlooked part of history. This book introduces the topic in first-person, present-tense narration. The art is lovely, the text gives a sense of some of the horror without going too graphic: "The soldiers are ready to act quickly against those who do not follow orders. I see some terrible things, and I do not want to die." I had no idea that 1.7 million Cambodians died over four years of te ...more
Michelle White
This book was hard to read. I assumed because it was a picture book that it wouldn't be hard to read. However, it described the Cambodian Genocide in way that told the truth, but that students could understand. The main character was 9. This would make them put themselves in the characters shoes. The end of the book includes and informational section that I could use to help the students to better understand where the book takes place. I put this book on the historical fiction, informational boo ...more
Little is known in the U.S. about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. For some reason we seem to turn a blind eye to genocides other than the Holocaust. Yes, that was the ultimate attempt at eradicating an entire race of people, but there are many others that should be studied in addition.

The story itself of Half Spoon of Rice gives young kids a very small window into what life was like in the Khmer Rouge. It is by no means a complete story, but reading this book is like opening Pandora's Box. I
Mar 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Grades 5-8
This picture book is based on interviews conducted by the author and represents a gentle view (if there could be such a thing) of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. It represents a good starting point for discussing genocide.

The painted illustrations are realistic, but appropriate for younger readers, however sometimes they do not match the text. Following the narrative is a fairly in-depth non-fiction section.
Most school children in America don't know about the Khmer Rouge or its reign of terror in Cambodia during the mid-70's. Half Spoon of Rice describes the horrific capture, imprisonment, and killing of millions of Cambodians over four years. ...more
Britomarte Van Horn
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Strong portrayal of life for a child in a harsh experience.
May 22, 2014 marked it as to-read
I am not sure I would read this with the age group it's aimed at, but it caught my attention at the library. Probably more appropriate for older kids who've already learned about the Holocaust. ...more
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia, racism, war
the title refers to the daaily ration of food given out. the art is almost as powerful as the text.
Alisha Williams
I was not aware of the Cambodian Genocide until I read this book. It is a great book and so informative.It has information and facts about what happened.
Scott Steele
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. There are reminders of inhuman things done to each other. I would highly recommend this book.
Apr 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Genocide Unit: Cambodia
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Such a sad story about what happened in Cambodia. If you want to understand this book fully, read 'The Clay Marble' first. ...more
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Sep 14, 2020
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Nov 20, 2018
Ryan Woodward
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Nov 13, 2019
Kirsten Barber
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Sep 06, 2013
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Jun 18, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Feb 18, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jan 21, 2017
Stephanie Lingenfelter
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Jul 31, 2014
rated it it was ok
Feb 08, 2018
rated it really liked it
Oct 13, 2019
Jc Vergara
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Jul 24, 2019
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Icy Smith (Sui Bing Tang) is an award-winning author and the founder of East West Discovery Press, which specializes in publishing and distributing multicultural and bilingual books in more than 50 different languages.

Her acclaimed book, The Lonely Queue: The forgotten history of the courageous Chinese Americans in Los Angeles, was described by the Los Angeles Times as “a bilingual book that celeb

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