"... Perkins seamlessly blends cultural, political, religious, and philosophical context into her story, which is distinguished by humor, astute insights into human nature, and memorable characters ... As Chiko and Tu Reh wrestle with prejudices of culture and class, Perkins delivers a graceful exploration of the redemptive power of love, family, and friendship under untenable circumstances." — ★ Publishers Weekly, starred review

"With authenticity, insight, and compassion, Perkins delivers another culturally rich coming-of-age novel ... Chiko and Tu Reh are dynamic narrators whose adolescent angst and perspectives permeate the trauma of their daily lives. Dialogue and descriptions are vibrant; characters are memorable; cultural characteristics are smoothly incorporated; and the story is well paced. – ★ School Library Journal, starred review, Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC

"Writing in a present tense that adds urgency to the story, Perkins draws a persuasive picture of contemporary Burma/Myanmar ... differing perspectives, as well as their commonalities, make the drama as moral as it is physical, and rich with action." — Roger Sutton, Horn Book

"First and foremost, a compelling story." — Jan Gardner, Off the Shelf, Boston Globe 

"A tender tale of parallel sorrows and dreams." Judy Green, Sacramento Bee

"In a time when every other novel for kids is just a reiteration of an idea we’ve seen done a hundred ways before, here we have at least one book that knows that being important and being enjoyable are simply opposite sides of the same coin ... Exciting, tense, often beautiful, and containing a moral without whapping you upside the head with it, Mitali Perkins yet again hits it out of the park. Even the fantasy fans like I was are going to find this an exciting ride. A book that continually keeps you guessing." — Elizabeth Bird, NYPL Children's Librarian and School Library Journal blogger

"While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, more suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, 'What is it like to be a child soldier?' clearly, but with hope. " — Kirkus Reviews

"A Burmese boy soldier and an ethnic Karenni refugee narrate a thrilling jungle survival story about war along the Myanmar border. In an unsparing novel for middle-grade readers, Perkins sorts out the boys’ complicated feelings about revenge, justice, freedom and loyalty. The title metaphor honors the strength and flexibility that individuals need when their simplest hopes are thwarted by geopolitical hatred." — Stanford Magazine

"While displacement camps and military maneuvers are not the trappings of your standard touchy-feely 'do the right thing' tale, they bring a sense of hard-edged reality to Mitali Perkins’ Bamboo People, an intriguing and insightful story about two boys learning how to become men in the midst of chaos." — BookPage

"Perkins must be one of the most readable young adult writers alive, and her excellent characterizations temper the gravitas of the tale without diminishing the very real plight of the communities concerned." — Niranjana Iyer, Asian Review of Books

"Mitali Perkins has written something here that is so fine, so rare, so beautiful, that I am loath to move on to another book too quickly because I want to think and remember and savor this exquisite story ... This is such a powerful and emotional story. Told in Chiko's and Tu Reh's voices, the chapters are short which keeps the story moving and will keep readers at all levels engaged. This is a beautiful tale of faith and hope. I am pondering now the best way to booktalk it. Kids MUST find this book." — Bookmoot

"Perkins, a gifted storyteller and careful researcher, gives voice to both Chiko and Tu Reh in consecutive narratives that describe Chiko's training-camp ordeal and Tu Reh's efforts to help support the Karenni resistance. Liberally woven into the story are themes of hope, courage, friendship, and grace, making the novel an enjoyable read despite the grim topic. The book gets top marks for bringing the reader into a country with which relatively few people have any real familiarity or understanding." — Yana Rodgers, EconKids

"The story is totally gripping. I couldn’t want to see what would happen next and read a few pages whenever I had a spare moment — to the point where I would pull out the book in the elevator, on a 5-minute bus ride, even while I waited by the photocopier. Yes, the story is THAT suspenseful." — Kids Momo

"Elegantly written story, with characters that feel completely real." — E. Kristin Anderson

"An absolutely amazing book!  I’m not sure I’ll be able to adequately express just how much I loved it and how important I think it is.  It’s impossible to read this book and not be affected.  I felt a range of emotions from anger and sadness to joy and hope." — Bermuda Onion 

"Perkins excels at depicting foreign cultures through sounds, scents, and tastes ... There are no long paragraphs of description here, instead readers are treated to details woven into the story that bring the entire book to life. This is done with a skill that makes it seem effortless. Her characterizations are also done with the same grace ... The darker parts of battle and imprisonment are dealt with obliquely, allowing readers to bring their own level of understanding to the atrocities being committed.  Again, this is a testimony to the skill of Perkins’ writing. Highly recommended, this book takes the horrors of war and packages them in a piercingly beautiful story. Appropriate for ages 12-15." — Menasha Public Library

"Hits just the right chord for middle-schoolers." — Librarian Sharon Colvin, Boston Globe / Your Town

"(Perkins) gives both voracious readers and reluctant ones alike a chance to learn from and about the conflict from both a child soldier’s and a refugee’s story simultaneously ... At the same time, those who are more familiar with the conflict in Burma will definitely find some amazing characters and a moving narrative to boot." — YA Bookshelf

"I loved both narrators. I loved seeing the human side of war. Bamboo People is a very compelling read." — Becky Laney, Becky's Book Reviews

"Full of heartfelt language that describes both the daily life and the hardships of the Burmese and Karenni people." — Librarian by Day

"As an adult, I found Bamboo People to be an excellent read. The characters are interesting, and grow over the course of the book. The conflicts the characters face feel genuine. I avidly read the second half of the book in one sitting. I used to read that way a lot (science fiction, Tolstoy, etc.), but I haven't in a long while. Bamboo People reminded me of why I love to read." — Explore Dance

"This fascinating story shines a light on the desperate situation of those affected by current Burmese policies and will help educate young readers about that situation in particular and the vagaries and confusion surrounding conflict in general. The characters, Perkins’ first male protagonists, are very thoughtful, easy to engage with, and surprisingly similar ... This juxtaposition is absolutely brilliant and illustrates the point that war makes enemies out of people who, in a different context, would become the best of friends." —

"I was transported to Burma and experienced the lives of two child soldiers and their families who are on opposite sides of the conflict there. What an excellent book for all of us adults to read ourselves and then to discuss with children in the upper elementary grades, the target audience for the book." — Carol Rasco, CEO, Reading is Fundamental

"...A story that invites discussion of the realities of warfare rooted in long-standing antagonisms and unreasoning hatred of 'the other.' A particularly good book for classroom use." — Booklist

"The author paints war in all of its gradations of gray, including the people who influence those decisions, both powerful and seemingly powerless. Readers will leave this moving story—half from Chiko's first-person narrative, and half narrated by Tu Reh—with the understanding that everyone has a choice, no matter how dire the circumstances." — Shelf Awareness

"In this classic coming of age story in a setting almost unimaginable to the American reader, Perkins tells the story of Burma at war ... Through the eyes of these two young men we experience violence, prejudice and the abuse of power as well as what courage and heroism really mean." — Shirley Mullin, Bookseller, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN, recommending the book as a Summer Indie Next Pick.

"The characters are just right for the book’s purpose, namely to illuminate an ethnic minority military rebellion against an oppressive majority military dictatorship ... The book would make a great vehicle for class discussion, as its themes of oppression and rebellion are played out again and again, from Burma to Bolivia, from Afghanistan to Star Wars." — Carol Chittenden, Bookseller, Eight Cousins

"I found a quiet corner here today to sit and begin reading the book. Before I knew it, the time had flown past and I was nearing the end of the story ... Perkins gives readers a glimpse into what it means to be a hero. As Tolkien observes: a hero does not return home unscarred. Readers will not return from this book without a new sense of the geopolitics of modern day Burma (Myanmar). War and the effects of war have long been themes explored by books. Perkins offers tweens and teens a chance to ponder these global themes from a developmentally appropriate perspective." — Teri Lesesne, aka Professor Nana

"Profound, good stuff." — Sherry Early, blogger and homeschooling parent, Semicolon

"Perkins gives engaging, real voices to her characters who pull you along with them on their often-terrifying ride through a tense situation ... Excellent for reluctant and guy readers." — Lizz Zitron, Librarian

"The voice is the magic of this story. It is first person, present tense. It is deceptively simple. It seemed to be setting me up for a much gentler story, but soon that simple and honest voice began to speak of terrible things ... In fact, as the worlds of Chiko and Tu Reh descend further and further into madness, as fear and anger grow into bravery and compassion and friendship, this simplicity of voice seems to grow even more fitting. This is elegant storytelling." — Bruce Wishart

"The story was, as I expected, very original. I also liked the style of writing, which I think will appeal to guy readers too. A highly recommended read for every young reader!" — Marjolein Book Blog

"An excellent and compelling book set in modern Burma ... The story resonates with the universal themes of honor and friendship that are easily accessible to upper elementary and middle school readers." — Linda Griset, Librarian, Pike School, Andover, Ma

"Bamboo People is a special book, one I'd like to see children read to learn about other cultures, to understand the devastation of power and conflict, to believe in courage and friendship." — Vivian Mahoney

The author with three young Karenni newly arrived in Portland, Maine: