A FAMOUS, NEWBERRY AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR VISITING

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Ashley Achee writes, Kadohata was in Denver as one of the featured speakers for a convention recently on behalf of the Japanese Cultural Muse…

Kadohata was in Denver as one of the featured speakers for a convention recently on behalf of the Japanese Cultural Museum of Los Angeles, California. I had the rare and fortunate opportunity to meet one of my favorite authors of all time right here in my own home! Cynthia is a Japanese-American born in Chicago, now living in California. She has a Colorado connection in that her father lives in Grand Junction. Kadohata is the author of Kira-Kira, a book about two Japanese sisters living in the America’s southern states during the 1950s, she also authored Weedflower, a story of a Japanese-American girl who is sent to an internment camp in the 1940s. Kadohata is also the author of Outside Beauty, a story about four half-sisters who split up to meet their fathers; and recently, Cracker!, about the courage and fate of a Vietnam war dog.Kadohata revealed many interesting and surprising insights about her path to becoming an author. She was a journalism major, having graduated from the University of Southern California. When she finished college, she knew she wanted to write fiction. She also said that her favorite book growing up was Call Of the Wild.According to Kadohata her biggest accomplishments were being able to be a successful author, and writing books for children of all ages to enjoy, as well as being the mother of a 5 year old boy, named Sam. Kadohata decided to write children’s books, and in graduate school, she had a roommate who was becoming a children’s books editor. Kadohata’s goal initially, was to write for the New Yorker Magazine. She would send articles every month, hopeful of publication in the magazine. The editor of the magazine liked one of her articles in particular and suggested that she write a book. Her roommate encouraged Kadohata to write a children’s book and offered to edit the book for her. Several years later, Kira-Kira was published. She won the prestigious Newberry Award for this children’s book.Kadohata said that as a child she was a voracious reader, encouraged by herMother to read as much as he could. “Reading is the precursor to becoming a good writer. If you are in acting classes at school, getting into your character is something you do. When you are writing a book and have to develop all your characters you do the same thing . When I write my books, I hope that children will really put themselves into the book and lose themselves in the main characters of my stories.”Kadohata said she developed the book Kira-Kira that after her beloved dog passed away, and her grief inspired the theme for the book. She based one of the main characters on her dog. Her publisher and editor loved the idea, and within two years it was published.Kadohata said that the inspiration for her latest book, Cracker!, originated from an idea about dogs who lived on another planet. Her editor and publisher didn’t like the idea about dogs living in outer space. Kadohata later saw an article on war dogs during the Vietnam War. She was instantly inspired to write Cracker! and she met with several Vietnam veteran dog handlers to learn about what the dogs were used for, and why they were a key part of the war. She learned that the dog’s job was to sniff out bombs and booby traps they were important because without them many soldiers would have died or been captured in the booby traps. Unfortunately, at the end of the war, there were too many dogs to bring back to the United States, and the U. S. government’s policy dictated that they all were to be killed.Kadohata said her next book will be about the native tribe in southern Vietnam called the Montagnards. She plans to write about a young boy who belongs to the tribe, and his job is to take care of the elephants that belong to the tribe. Cynthia is a Japanese-American born in Chicago, now living in California.Cynthia is a Japanese-American born in Chicago, now living in California.Kadohata’s books can be purchased in a variety book store near you! For more information on her books go to http://www.kira-kira.us.