kira-kira (kee'ra kee'ra): glittering; shining
This is Katie Takeshima's first word, taught to her by big sister Lynn. Lynn is the person who can always make things glitter, even when the family is forced to move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the less welcoming Deep South of Georgia. As a member of one of the seven Japanese families in a large town, Katie is initially friendless, attracting stares on the street. But she is too busy having fun with her sister to take notice - Lynn reads to her, and explains the important things in life with an unquenchable sense of optimism. When Lynn becomes seriously ill, she is slowly sapped of her vital energy, rendering it Katie's responsibility to make things 'kira-kira'. From stealing a bottle of pink nail varnish for her sister to trying harder at school, she finds ways to keep hope alive, even as Lynn's health deteriorates further. This is a truly inspirational story, told with humour and subtlety.