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The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh / by Frederick Lipp, illustrated by Ronald Himler


Title: The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh
Author: Frederick Lipp
Illustrator:  Ronald Himler
Publisher: Holiday House
ISBN: 0-8234-1534-1
Year: 2001
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.9

Concepts: markets, bargaining, scarcity, poverty, wants and needs

Summary: Although she has spent all of her life in Phnom Penh, eight-year-old Ary has heard stories about the green countryside where rice grows and where birds fly free. She dreams about escaping from the polluted city where she and her family live in poverty. One morning, she takes the money that she has earned by selling flowers and goes to the marketplace, intending to buy a bird from the bird lady's cage. According to custom, if the bird flies free, her wish will come true. She chooses one, holds it tight while she makes a wish for her family, and then releases it. The girl is bitterly disappointed when it circles overhead and then returns to perch on the woman's finger. Feeling as though she has been tricked, Ary consults her grandfather, who tells her that it is important not to pick just any bird when making wishes. She saves more money and watches the bird lady carefully. One day, she sees the woman putting a new bird in the cage. Ary picks this bird and watches it fly out of sight, knowing that some day her dreams will come true.

Source of Summary: School Library Journal

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