A Guide for Reading GroupsKIRA - KIRABy Cynthia KadohataAbout the BookKatie Takeshima is about to enter kindergarten in the 1950s, when her parents close their Oriental foods grocery store in Iowa and move to Chesterfield, Georgia to work in a chicken hatchery. Uncle Kutsuhisa helps them move into a small apartment complex where other Japanese families live, and they begin a long struggle toward saving money to purchase a house of their own. The working conditions are almost intolerable at the hatchery, and the Takeshima children experience prejudices at school, but the small community of Japanese families band together and support one another in their daily lives. Because Mr. and Mrs. Takeshima work double shifts, Katie and her younger brother, Sammy, are left in the care of their older sister Lynn. Katie believes that Lynn is a "genius" and listens as her sister encourages her to look beyond tomorrow. But there is no tomorrow for Lynn. When she is fourteen, and Katie ten, Lynn becomes ill with lymphoma and ultimately dies. At this point, the Takeshima family almost falls apart, but Katie remembers Lynn's special way of looking at life, and finds a way to show her parents that there is always hope and something glittering -kira-kirain their future.About the AuthorCynthia Kadohata is the author of the Newbery Award winner andNew York TimesbestsellerKira-Kira,her debut novel for children. She has also published three novels for adults, includingThe Floating World,for which she was named a Whiting Fellow. Her short stories have been published inThe New Yorker, Grand Street Magazine,andPloughshares.A graduate of the University of Southern California, she has taken graduate courses in writing at the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University. A great deal of Cynthia's writing inspiration comes from her travels across America: as a child her family lived in Georgia and Arkansas before settling in Chicago, and as an adult, she explored the states on a Greyhound bus.