Kira-Kira is about a Japanese American family living in Georgia in the 1950s. The story is told through the eyes of young Katie, full of wonder and mischief, who adores her older sister Lynn. Their parents work in a poultry processing plant and the reader is given a glimpse into the unjust working conditions of the time as well as the racism Katie and her family faced as one of only a few Japanese American families in town.
Students can summarize and illustrate the plot of the story in a 6 cell storyboard highlighting the exposition and conflict, rising action, climax / turning point, falling action, and resolution.
KIRA-KIRA by Cynthia Kahdohata
EXPOSITION / CONFLICT
Kira-Kira is a story about a young girl named Katie Takeshima growing up in Georgia in the 1950s in one of the only Japanese American families in her small town. Katie has a very special bond with her older sister Lynn who teaches her everything including the meaning of Kira-Kira: the Japanese word for glittering or sparkling.
CLIMAX / TURNING POINT
Katie moves from Iowa to Georgia with her mother, father, and sister. Her Uncle Son has a job there and was able to get her parents jobs in a poultry processing plant. The family lives in a modest apartment in a building with other people who work at the plant. The Takeshimas are one of only a few Japanese American families in town. The girls face racism at school and the parents face harsh working conditions.
Katie and Lynn are best of friends and do everything together. When their brother Sam is born, Lynn helps take care of Katie and Katie helps take care of Sam. Lynn is often unwell but despite this, she is top of her class and has big dreams for her future. One day, the children are picnicking on the vast property of the poultry plant owner Mr. Lyndon. Little Sam gets caught in a bear trap and is badly injured!
Lynn's bouts of illness steadily get worse and it is revealed that she has Lymphoma. The parents work non stop at the poultry plant in order to buy a house so that Lynn can live in the house of her dreams in the hopes that it will help make her better. Katie constantly cares for Lynn and does what she can to help the family. Unfortunately, Lynn succumbs to her illness.
Mr. Takeshima is overwhelmed with grief at Lynn's passing. He and his wife have barely any time off because of harsh working conditions at the plant. He is also enraged that his son was injured by a bear trap on Mr. Lyndon's property. In his grief, he smashes Mr. Lyndon's car and drives away. He would have gotten away with it but to show Katie to always do what is right, he admits his mistake to Mr. Lyndon, who fires him.
In the end, Mr. Takeshima gets another job in a different plant. After Lynn's passing the family grieves for many months. One day, Katie's father suggests they go on a trip to help with their sorrows. Katie suggests going to the sea where Lynn had always dreamed of going. There, they find peace looking at the world and all its natural beauty through Lynn's eyes, seeing magic in everything.