Rice from Heaven

Earlier, author Tina Cho shared how she turned her real life experience into a picture book. Today, as part of Perfect Picture Book Friday, here’s more about this important book. 

Title: Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans

Written by: Tina ChoRicefromHeaven cover

Illustrated by: Keum Jin Song

little bee books – 2018

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/topics: North Korea, humanitarian aid, hunger

“Out in the countryside, across a bridge, to an island blanketed with rice fields, Appa and I ride. We reach a place where mountains become a wall. A wall so high, no one dares to climb. Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have food to eat.

Overview: (from barnesandnoble.com)
Rice from Heaven is a true story about compassion and bravery as a young girl and her community in South Korea help deliver rice via balloons to the starving and oppressed people in North Korea.

Yoori lives in South Korea and doesn’t know what North Korea is like, but her father (Appa) does. Appa grew up in North Korea, where he did not have enough food to eat. Starving, he fled to South Korea in search of a better life. Yoori doesn’t know how she can help as she’s only a little “grain of rice” herself, but Appa tells her that they can secretly help the starving people by sending special balloons that carry rice over the border.

Villagers glare and grumble, and children protest feeding the enemy, but Yoori doesn’t back down. She has to help. People right over the border don’t have food. No rice, and no green fields.

With renewed spirit, volunteers gather in groups, fill the balloons with air, and tie the Styrofoam containers filled with rice to the tails of the balloons. With a little push, the balloons soar up and over the border, carrying rice in the darkness of the night over to North Korea.

Activities and Resources:

  •  The story offers excellent opportunities for discussion.
  • Project/Service learning: What can your class do to help others? Design a class project.
  • Write about a time you helped someone or about a time someone helped you.
  • ESL classroom: Compare and contrast native countries. Using the back matter page  “Facts on Korea” as a model. Write five facts about your native country.
  • Read Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley to learn more about rice around the world.

Why I like this book:
Rice from Heaven takes a complex political problem and addresses the human element in a simple story that speaks to the heart. A lovely rice metaphor carries through the story, depicting each of us as “grains of hope.” The power of the story lies in one child’s ability to empathize and take action to help others less fortunate. It’s great for young readers to know that there are ways for compassion to get past the various kinds of walls that separate us and when we empathize, we find that “enemies” are not that different from us. The back matter offers a range of interesting and comprehensible information on North Korea for a deeper understanding.  This book is an excellent opportunity for young kids to learn about their world.

You can visit Tina Cho HERE.

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

17 thoughts on “Rice from Heaven

  1. This is so much empathy in this story for children less fortunate. Kids will love the idea of helping others less fortunate. Great review. Haven’t run my review yet, but I just loved Tina’s book! We need more stories for children about North Korea.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on ReadWriteDream and commented:
    In the spirit of kidlit inclusiveness, I thought I would share this blog post written by Beth Anderson, a children’s author. I read The Girl with Seven Names by Heyonseo Lee this summer and this book profiled, Rice from Heaven looks like a beautiful way for children to understand the difficult political situation and immoral treatment of people in North Korea. I look forward to reading it. Beth’s blog is wonderful for introducing me to special children’s books.

    Liked by 2 people

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