53 pages 1 hour read

Cynthia Kadohata


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2004

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Symbols & Motifs

Innocent, Childlike Humor

To give the young Katie a believable narrative voice, Kadohata deploys her ability to remember what it was like to be a child. This includes peppering the narration with moments where readers will understand something Katie doesn’t quite grasp yet. As a result, when she is little, Katie’s naïve observations are often funny and full of joy. As the narrative progresses and Katie grows older and encounters some harsh realities, the character of her humor becomes worldlier. For example, in the early portions of the novel, Katie explains that her sister is a genius, which she knows because when she asked, Lynn affirmed it. Reflecting on her tiny mother’s mastery of her father, Katie decides that women know a secret foot-rubbing technique that renders men helpless to resist their wishes. When Uncle and Auntie Fumi disappear into a camping tent and her cousin tells her they are trying to make a baby, Katie reflects that whatever this means, it requires a lot of groaning.

In latter stages of the narrative, Katie’s frank observations deal with more mature issues, yet retain their childlike quality. When her parents break with their traditional distrust of banks to seek a mortgage, Katie is dubious that banks are necessary—Katie has hidden her money in the house, and knows that if a thief tried to steal it, she would simply hit them over the head with a lamp.