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Publisher's Summary

kira-kira (kee' ra kee' ra): glittering; shining

Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people's eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop them on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering, kira-kira, in the future.

Luminous in its persistence of love and hope, Kira-Kira is Cynthia Kadohata's stunning debut in middle-grade fiction. Kira-Kira won the 2005 Newbery Medal for most distinguished American children's book.

Click here to see a full list of Newbery Medal winners and Newbery Honor winners.
©2005 Cynthia Kadohata; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

  • Newbery Medal Winner, 2005

"Lynn's ability to teach Katie to appreciate the "kira-kira", or glittering, in everyday life makes this novel shine." (Publishers Weekly)
"In her first novel for young people, Kadohata stays true to the child's viewpoint in plain, beautiful prose that can barely contain the passionate feelings." (Booklist)
"All of the characters are believable and well developed....Girls will relate to and empathize with the appealing protagonist." (School Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Chris
  • Mississauga, ON, Canada
  • 08-27-05

An Emotional Rollercoaster

I listened to this book in the car with my kids aged 5, 8 and 12, as we drove to our vacation spot. All four of us loved it, although it might be a tad too mature for most kids under the age of 8. The poignant story made us laugh and also made us cry (well, mostly I cried, truth be told). It raised many issues for discussion: segregation, family values and matters of life and death. The story offered a peek into the experience of one Japanese-American family moving from Iowa to Georgia in order to improve their quality of life. Beautifully written and also beautifully narrated.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wonderful family fair!

This is a wonderfully stirring book with a wonderful narrator. On an road trip, my family (kids 4-10, mother, grandmother) listened with rapt attention. We laughed, we sympathised, and the children asked questions that led to wonderful discussions. A wonderful way to spend a trip or an evening at home. Definitely beats hearing "Are we there yet?" over and over.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Misty
  • Portland, OR, USA
  • 06-30-06

Great for a Car Trip with Kiddos

This book talks about death in a way that is dealable. It's a great book to listen to on a short road trip with kiddos, and then start a conversation about death if need be. It lends itself to that. For someone without that intent and just wanting a story, the character development is nice, but it felt like the story was blotchy--missing pieces. It was nice enough, but if it were more than 5 hours, it would have lost my interest.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Beautiful story!

This story was read beautifully and the plot is gorgeous as well. It’s sad but necessary. Family dynamics, Japanese culture, and childhood grief are told in such a way that anyone can see how wonderful life can be.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Touching Story

The life and struggles of a family trying to make it as Japanese Americans in a time when fear and discrimination hindered their place in America.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

a little slow

What made the experience of listening to Kira-Kira the most enjoyable?

The book was a little quiet and reserved for me. Unlike the other reviewers, it did not make me cry. The ending was very poetic, though, and my favorite part of the book.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Elizabeth
  • Oklahoma City, OK, United States
  • 11-06-12

What a touching book!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have already recommended this book to my sister - it is slow to develop into a story about a younger sister's loss of her older sister. The love described is beautiful; the sister is nurtured by her sister and she, in turn, nurtures her younger brother. The parents, immigrants from Japan in the early 50's, must work every day for long hours. They love their children, but the direct nurturing comes from each other.

What other book might you compare Kira-Kira to and why?

There is no comparison to this book. It was so delightful in many ways but so sad in other ways.

What about Elaina Erika Davis’s performance did you like?

I loved her role in first person telling the story of a young woman's perspective of having an ill sister and of her having to take on roles that aren't comfortable. She portrayed the character very well.

If you could rename Kira-Kira, what would you call it?


Any additional comments?

The only thing I didn't clearly understand was some of the cultural issues. I would have to look to ensure that Japanese people celebrate American New Year in that area rather than Chinese New Year - they very well may have started embracing American holidays. Most other Asians celebrate the Chinese New Year.

  • Overall
  • Gula
  • saleUnited Kingdom
  • 02-25-06

save your money

to be be fair there are some good bits and some important issues are raised but this book for me was very slow paced and dull.

  • Overall


The prose is as shimmering, transparent, and soulful as the title.

5 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • C.
  • Arlington, MA, United States
  • 04-14-11

not worth the time

I had heard wonderful things about this story and wanted to enjoy it, but really did not. Not worth the listen in my opinion.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful