Dillon and I LOVED listening to “Project Mulberry,” a novel by Linda Sue Park, read by actress/narrator Mina Kim. We started the 4+ hour, 4 CD set on the way back to Chicago from St. Louis, and then ended up listening to it over the course of the next week, on the way to school in the morning, during errands on the weekend, etc.
We checked the CD set out from the library, mostly because Dillon likes science. We had no idea that we would get such a fantastic multicultural experience and insights into prejudice and racism. The reading by Mina Kim and interview with the author between chapters added to the overall experience of bringing the story to life.
Here is Dillon’s, age 8, review of the story:
What did you like best about Project Mulberry?
“I liked the part about the Kimchi. It was funny. I thought it was funny that Julia hated it, and that it smelled throughout the house. The first time I tried Kimchi, it was in Asian soup. It was gross, but it didn’t smell.”
Who was your favorite character?
“Patrick, because of his wormphobia. I dig and find worms at school. Once before school I found a worm that was as long as a kids arm.”
What are 5 adjectives you would use to describe this story?
- Funny, because of Patrick’s wormphobia
- Exciting, as they try to find the mulberry tree
- Interesting, because of the multicultural people
- Suspenseful, because of Julia’s secret plan to stop the project (because she was afraid it was ‘too Korean.’)
- Sad, because they had to kill a few of the silkworms.
Would you recommend this story?
“I would recommend this to people who like exciting stories. They’ll think it’s amazing. How did the author make the people sound Asian? It’s a good story because of the farming part, the chicken, and the cow poop. The story was funny, like when they asked why it wasn’t ‘animal wifery’ instead of animal husbandry.”
The website says the story is geared to ages 9 to 12, but we listened together so I could help with any hard vocabulary, and we could discuss concepts: Julia’s experience of being made fun of for her Asian heritage, her sensitivity to being mistaken for Chinese, versus Korean, the economic disparity between Patrick and Julia’s families and how that played out in their friendship, Julia’s concern that her mom might be racist when the owner of the Mulberry Tree turns out to be African American.
How are you engaging in dialogue with your child about ideals that are important to you? What books have you read with your child that you would recommend?