Cover image for So far from the Bamboo Grove / by Yoko Kawashima Watkins.
So far from the Bamboo Grove / by Yoko Kawashima Watkins.
Watkins, Yoko Kawashima.
Personal Author:
First Beech Tree edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Beech Tree Books, 1994.

Physical Description:
183 pages : map ; 20 cm
A fictionalized autobiography in which eleven-year-old Yoko escapes from Korea to Japan with her mother and sister at the end of World War II.
Reading Level:
730 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC High School 6.3 8 Quiz: 10611 Guided reading level: V.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Reading List
X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Reading List

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In the final days of World War II, Koreans were determined to take back control of their country from the Japanese and end the suffering caused by the Japanese occupation. As an eleven-year-old girl living with her Japanese family in northern Korea, Yoko is suddenly fleeing for her life with her mother and older sister, Ko, trying to escape to Japan, a country Yoko hardly knows.

Their journey is terrifying--and remarkable. It's a true story of courage and survival that highlights the plight of individual people in wartime. In the midst of suffering, acts of kindness, as exemplified by a family of Koreans who risk their own lives to help Yoko's brother, are inspiring reminders of the strength and resilience of the human spirit.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A Japanese mother and her two daughters make a difficult journey from North Korea to Japan at the end of World War II. (Ag 86)

Publisher's Weekly Review

This riveting novel, based on the author's own experiences, describes a Japanese family forced to flee their home in Korea at the end of WW II. Ages 10-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up A true account that is filled with violence and death, yet one that is ultimately a story of family love and life. Eleven-year-old Yoko Kawashima had led a peaceful and secure life as the daughter of a Japanese government official stationed in North Korea near the end of World War II. Abruptly, all is changed as she, her older sister Ko, and their mother flee the vengeance-seeking North Korean Communists and eventually make their way to an unwelcoming and war-ravaged Japan. Yoko's story is spellbinding. She often escapes death by mere chance; her brother, Hideyo, separated from the family, has an equally harrowing escape. The longed-for arrival in Japan proves to be an almost greater trial, as their mother, defeated by the discovery that all their Japanese relatives are dead, dies. Together, Yoko and Ko create a home in which to await the return of Hideyo. Watkins writes clearly and movingly, with a straightforward style through which the story unfolds quickly. She skillfully alternates her account of the girls' journey with that of their brother, maintaining readers' interest in both. Watkins is able to describe scenes of death, rape, and other atrocities with a simple directness which has no trace of sensationalism yet in no way diminishes their horror. Readers will be riveted by the events of the escape and struggle for survival, and enriched and inspired by the personalities of the family. Especially well drawn is Yoko's gradual emergence from a frightened, whining child to a strong and courageous young girl. Parallels can be drawn to Holocaust survival stories such as Aranka Siegal's Upon the Head of the Goat (Farrar, 1981) and Esther Hautzig's The Endless Steppe (Crowell, 1968). So Far from the Bamboo Grove should have a place among the finest of them. Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, N.J. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.