Nine-year-old Nat is forced out of his Cambodian home and marched into the countryside when the Khmer Rouge comes into power. Nat is separated from his family and endures forced labor in rice fields from dawn to midnight with little food. Over the next four years, Nat confronts starvation, fear, and brutality. With the help of his friend Malis, Nat finds hope and the strength to escape, eventually reuniting with the family he loves.
Half Spoon of Rice is based on true stories of children survivors during the Khmer Rouge regime in the mid–1970s in Cambodia. The book features vivid illustrations and historical photographs documenting an important part of the tumultuous history of Cambodia.
“This powerful child’s-eye view of war is harsh and realistic—like its subject—though accessible and thought-provoking.” – School Library Journal
“An important addition to the Holocaust curriculum.” – Booklist
“An unflinching look at a story that needs to be told. This book could be a centerpiece for any well-thought-out unit on genocide.” – Teaching Tolerance
“The heartwarming story…balances the horrors of genocide with moments of humanity and kindness.” – Youk Chhang, Director of Documentation Center of Cambodia
“The story has a strong universal dimension, offering solace and inspiration to children facing poverty, danger, and separation from loved ones no matter where they live.” – TimesUnion.com
“Smith’s truth-telling can touch children’s hearts, lead to greater compassion and deeper awareness of our human existence, and inspire courage and justice over cruelty.” – Papertigers.org