Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

EconKids Home Older Children and Young Adults: 2008 The Buddha's Diamonds / by Carolyn Marsden & Thay Phap Niem

The Buddha's Diamonds / by Carolyn Marsden & Thay Phap Niem


Title:  The Buddha's Diamonds
Author:  Carolyn Marsden & Thay Phap Niem
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
ISBN:  978-0-7636-3380-6
Year:  2008

Concepts: poverty, scarcity, human resources, jobs, markets, economics of conflict

Review: As an older boy living in one of Vietnam's poor coastal villages, Tinh had reached an age when he could start helping his father with the fishing at sea. Not only did the fish provide the family with their main source of nourishment, it also served as their primary means of earning cash in the marketplace. Although Tinh felt happy to be entrusted with such an important responsibility, he also missed playing soccer all day with his friends and flying a kite with his sister. As a deeply spiritual boy, Tinh constantly questioned his own actions and motives. He wanted to do the next right thing, especially when it came to pleasing his demanding father, but he felt confused when the naïveté of childhood pulled him in the opposite direction.

This conflict within grew to enormous proportions one day when a terrible cyclone struck while he and his father were out fishing. Instructed by his father to secure the boat after they made it back to the beach, Tinh became overwhelmed and left the boat to the mercy of the storm. Once the storm subsided, Tinh despaired at the wreckage left behind, his sister's injury, and his failure to meet his father's expectations.

Based on a true story, The Buddha's Diamonds explores the spiritual awakening that Tinh experiences as he struggles to come to terms with the harsh realities of natural disaster, extreme poverty, and post-war conditions. The graceful text and meaningful lessons should place this book at the top of any list of multicultural books for middle-grade readers.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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