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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Project Mulberry

Project Mulberry
Project Mulberry, written by Newbery award winning author Linda Sue Park, is a story of friendship, cooperation and discovery. Julia and Patrick have decided to do a project for the state fair - but what should they do that would be different enough to win first prize? Julia's mother grew up in Korea and gives them the idea to raise silkworms. Patrick really likes the idea, but Julia wants to do something that is more "American". There are obstacles to overcome - they need to purchase the silkworm eggs, where will they get the mulberry leaves needed to feed the silkworms, and what about Julia's reluctance to do this project at all?

Julia really wants to do a project, any project, that is more "American". She finally gives up trying to find ways to sabotage or change the project she and Patrick are trying to do, and finds out a secret about her friend, Patrick. Together they successfully raise silkworms, even enlisting Julia's little brother's help with the project. Julia learns a new skill, embroidery, and learns about herself and her ability to be kind and generous. The story is interesting, with many humorous situations.

The author, Linda Sue Park, doesn't let her character off easy, as they discuss where the story is going between the chapters. This interaction between author and main character is a great insight into the writing of the story, where the ideas flow from.

Very interesting story, especially since it is based in Illinois. In addition to "cool dialogs" between the author and Julia, I really liked the exploration of possible racial bias and its roots.

Also, the author gave a very good overview of sustainalbe farming and its impact on our environment. Great idea for children to get involved.
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