Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review: Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life


Author:  Jan Reynolds
Review Copy Provided by:  Lee and Low Books

This review is part of Jan Reynold's Earth Day Blog Tour for Lee and Low Books.

About the Book:  On the island of Bali in Southeast Asia, rice farming is a way of life. The people live in tune with the natural rhythms and cycles of the water and the soil. Ingrained in their community and culture, rice farming connects them to the land and one another.

Balinese farmers have planted rice using an intricate system of water sharing and crop rotation for more than a thousand years. Intertwined with their spiritual, social, and day-to-day lives, this system has made Bali a leading producer of one of the world’s most important crops. And because Balinese rice farming respects the balances of nature, it serves as a remarkable example of sustainable agriculture in an increasingly industrialized world.

My Review:  It is obvious that Jan Reynolds did some extensive research for this book.  It is filled with some of the most beautiful pictures from Bali.  I was completely in awe of them, especially one at the end of the book of the sunset over the water.  

This is a non-fiction text and I have to admit, one I wouldn't have picked up if it hadn't been for this tour.  I'm glad that I decided to take this on.  This is a great book for upper elementary or middle grade students doing research projects.  I was very interested in all that went into rice farming.  We have rice farms here in south Texas, but in Bali, it's a way of life.  The rice is literally, their life.  For generations, they have relied on the freshwater supply from the rain to sustain their rice fields.  It's amazing how intricate their water system is and how it's still in use after being built by hand in the ninth century.

The people of Bali spend alot of time holding water and rice ceremonies to insure the growth of good crops.  It is a way to not only ask for plenty of water and good crops, but also to connect the people and unite the area.  I really enjoyed reading about the people and how much pride they take in their ceremonies, fields, water supply, and rice crops.

This quote really sums it all up: 
Ballinese farmers know their lives must be lived in harmony with natural cycles in order to carry on their rice farming for the next thousand years.  They have a special prayer, Om sarwa prani hitangkaram -'May all that breathes be well.'  If the natural world is in balance, then all is in harmony on the island of Bali.
Jan Reynolds has done an excellent job of telling Bali's rice farming story.  It is an interesting read in which I learned alot.  At the end of the book is also a personal note from the author as well as a map & facts of Bali, web sites, and a glossary.
You can see actual video footage from Bali and hear Jan talk about rice farming and the research that went into this book.  At this site, you can also get a teaching guide for Cycle of Rice and a document called, Things You Can Do at Home to Live More.

1 comment:

Lori Calabrese said...


Great review. I can't even imagine the amount of research Jan Reynolds put into this book!

All the best,

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