cover image The Buddha's Diamonds

The Buddha's Diamonds

Carolyn Marsden, Thay Phap Niem, . . Candlewick, $14.99 (97pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3380-6

As in Silk Umbrellas , Marsden introduces a child from another culture undergoing a taxing transition. Based on the boyhood experiences of Thay Phap Niem, now a Buddhist monk, the novel centers on a 10-year-old in postwar Vietnam. Tinh now spends his summer working alongside his father, fishing in their handmade bamboo boat, but he can't help daydreaming about the remote-controlled car his friends are playing with. When a brutal storm hits and Tinh's younger sister is injured because Tinh doesn't act fast enough, he feels responsible—and when he fails to protect the boat, panicking along with the others on the beach at the sight of the huge waves, his father holds him responsible. How can Tinh tell his father that he has saved the toy car instead? Facing consequences far greater than those meted out to most of his fictional American peers, Tinh learns to balance his duties and to appreciate, also, the perpetual smile of the Buddha in the temple. This novel is most rewarding for its graceful unfolding of differences—Tinh always feels a little remote from the reader—and the chance it affords to spend time in a community guided by Buddhist values. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)