Tattos: Cambodia and Ary Essay

Submitted By altare
Words: 1140
Pages: 5

The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh is a story about hope. A small poor Cambodian girl Ary (which means knowledge) spent what little money she had to buy a caged bird. Legend has it that when you release the bird to freedom and make a wish, the bird will carry your wish on its wings to come true. Ary selected a bird but when she released the bird and made her wish the bird circled over head and flew back into the cage where it knew food and water were plentiful. Ary went home crying, calling her own home a cage just like the bird's. Later she told her grandfather about what had happened. He told her that she needed to be more selective when picking her bird, that only the blessed bird could make her wish come true. When Ary finally saved enough money to buy another bird she spent a whole day watching trying to find the blessed bird. There was one bird that was new that hadn't been in the cage before who was scared and in the corner. This bird still knew what freedom was like. Ary convinced the women selling the birds to let her purchase the bird in the corner. Ary picked the bird took a long breath and made wishes for chicken, new clothes, work for her brother, ointment for her grandfather, and finally for her herself, more knowledge. Ary possesses many characteristics that make her a positive gender model. She has many admirable traits such as perseverance and generosity. Ary remained unshaken by the trickery of the sales women. After her first bird returned to the cage Ary searched for answers and found them with her grandfather, this also makes her resourceful. But it was her generosity that impressed me the most. While making her wishes Ary almost forgot to make a wish for herself. She made wishes for all of her family before thinking of herself. Her character would not have been as effective as a boy. She craves knowledge which is not something most Cambodian girls are permitted to search for. Her wish for more knowledge was in hopes that one day she could attend a university, something few poor girls living in Cambodia are fortunate enough to do. Ary's relationship with other's is a distinctive characteristic in making her a gender role model. Her selfless wishes for her family are something few children would think to wish for. Things like new clothes, work, and medicine are things that readers take for granted. Her loyalty, commitment, and selflessness are things children can identify with and aspire to. This setting of this book is very uncommon. I had to look up where Phnom Phen was. Cambodia is a place few children have heard of and Ary and her family realistically represent what life is like there. The family sleeps on the floor, the children work, and they eat salt-fish and rice every day this lifestyle is foreign to children in the United States. The market place depicted in the pictures is also very different. For example people selling goods on the streets, everyone traveling on bicycles. This book opens the readers eyes to a very under represented culture. The few reviews I could find on this book paralleled the ideas I had about Ary's character. They talk about her intelligence and her optimism, probably her two most dominant traits. One review went into how the book and its illustrations introduce the reader to the culture in Cambodia. The " yellow light of the country, the gray light of the streets, and the dark of the family's home" create a vivid accurate picture for the reader to take away. The caged bird of Phnom Phen is an inspirational story for young boys and girls. Ary displays generosity and perseverance, while breaking stereotypes, and introducing the culture of Cambodia.
Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Rendered in watercolor and gouache over pencil, Himler's (Fly Away Home) softly focused portraits of a winning young heroine carry readers through a few of Lipp's (That Cat Is Not for Sale) wordier passages. Though eight-year-old Ary has heard about