Project Mulberry

Project Mulberry

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Julia Song and her friend Patrick would love to win a blue ribbon, maybe even two, at the state fair. They’ve always done projects together, and they work well as a team. This time, though, they’re having trouble coming up with just the right project. Then Julia’s mother offers a suggestion: They can raise silkworms, as she did when she was a girl in Korea.

Patrick thinks it’s a great idea. Of course there are obstacles—for example, where will they get mulberry leaves, the only thing silkworms eat?—but nothing they can’t handle.

Julia isn’t so sure. The club where kids do their projects is all about traditional American stuff, and raising silkworms just doesn’t fit in. Moreover, the author, Ms. Park, seems determined to make Julia’s life as complicated as possible, no matter how hard Julia tries to talk her out of it.

In this contemporary novel, Linda Sue Park delivers a funny, lively story that illuminates both the process of writing a novel and the meaning of growing up American.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307245342
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/26/2005
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.69(w) x 4.87(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Linda Sue Park's A Single Shard was a Newbery Medal recipient. She lives in Rochester, New York.

Read an Excerpt


PATRICK AND I became friends because of a vegetable.
     Not just any vegetable.
     A cabbage.
     And not just any old cabbage. A Korean pickled cabbage. Which isn’t a round cabbage like Peter Rabbit would eat, but a longer, leafier kind. It gets cut up and salted and packed in big jars with lots of garlic, green onions, and hot red pepper, and then it’s called kimchee. Kimchee is really spicy. Koreans eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
     I don’t like kimchee. My mom says that when I was little, I used to eat it. She’d rinse off the spiciness and give me a bite or two. When I got to be six or seven years old, she stopped rinsing it. Most Korean mothers do that, and most Korean kids keep eating it.
     Not me. I hated the spiciness, and I still do. My mom keeps telling me I should eat it because it’s refreshing. But what’s so refreshing about having your mouth on fire?
     My family used to tease me about not liking kimchee. My dad said maybe it meant I wasn’t really Korean. “We should have your DNA tested,” he’d tell me. The seven-year-old snotbrain named Kenny who lives with us—otherwise known as my little brother—would wave big pieces in front of me and threaten to force me to eat them.
     Another thing about kimchee is, it has a really strong smell. Even though it’s stored in jars, you can still smell it, right through the jar and the refrigerator door. It sends out these feelers through the whole house.
     Three years ago, when I was in fourth grade, we were living in Chicago. I’d made friends with a girl named Sarah. The first time she came over to play, she stopped dead in the entryway and said, “Eww! What’s that smell?
     I’d never really noticed it. Smells are funny that way—they can sort of disappear if you live with them all the time. But Sarah was so grossed out that I was really embarrassed.
     The exact same thing happened again a few weeks later, this time with two friends, a boy named Michael and his sister, Lily. They both stopped dead in their tracks and grabbed their noses. Then they insisted that we play outside because they couldn’t stand the smell.
     I asked my mom to stop making kimchee, but she told me I was being unreasonable.
     When we moved to Plainfield two years ago, our new apartment didn’t smell like kimchee—for about half a day. Then my mom unpacked some groceries, including a big jar of kimchee. Sigh.
     I met Patrick on our second day in Plainfield, a Saturday morning. Actually, I saw him on the first day; he was hanging around on his front steps three doors down, watching the movers. Him and his three brothers as well. I noticed him right away, not because of the way he looked—brown hair in a normal boy-haircut, a few freckles, a gap between his front teeth that predicted braces in his future—but because he seemed to be the closest to my age. The other three boys were little, younger even than Kenny.
     On the second day, I took a break from unpacking and went out to have a good look at the neighborhood. There they were again, the four boys, like they’d never moved off the steps. This time there was a girl with them, too, but she was a lot older.
     Patrick came down the steps and said hello and told me his name. I said hi back and told him mine.
     “Can I see inside your house?” he asked.
     “Sure,” I said.
     As we started down the sidewalk, we were suddenly surrounded by his three brothers.
     “Can we come, too?”
     “Patrick, we wanna see.”
     “Patrick, what’s her name?”
     Patrick stopped walking. “Claire!” he yelled.
     The girl on the steps looked up from picking at her nails. “Yeah?” she said.
     “Make them stay with you,” Patrick said. “I can’t go barging in with all of them.”
     “I’m leaving soon. Michelle is picking me up to go to the mall.”
     “Well, that means I’ll be looking after them then. So you take them for now.”
     Claire stood up. “YOU BEEN ICKY!” she yelled.
     At least that was what it sounded like to me, but later I learned that their names were Hugh, Ben, and Nicholas, and that Hugh was a year older than Ben and Nicky, who were twins, and that they usually got called “Hugh-Ben-Nicky” all in one breath.
     “Pleeeeease can we—”
     “Hugh, let’s go see if there are any cookies,” Claire said.
     Hugh let go of Patrick’s arm and turned back toward their house. Ben and Nicky trotted after him. Patrick grinned at me. “If you get Hugh to do something, you’ve got all three of them,” he explained.
     As we walked in the door of my house, Patrick tilted his head and sniffed.
     I braced myself for his reaction.
     “Whoa,” he said. “What’s that? It smells great!”
     That was the beginning of Patrick’s love affair with kimchee. Whenever he eats dinner with us, my mom puts one bowl of kimchee on the table for the family and gives Patrick a whole private bowl for himself. He eats it in huge mouthfuls, sometimes without even adding any rice. I can hardly stand to watch him.
     Maybe he’s the one who needs his DNA tested.

     Patrick and I were sitting on the floor of my room. He was reading aloud from a pamphlet. I was sewing up one of the cushions I keep on my bed. It had split the week before when we had a pillow fight, and the stuffing was falling out.
     Patrick snorted. “Not wine, ssswine. You think they’d let us anywhere near alcohol? Anyway, we’ve already decided to do an animal project. Wine is not an animal.”
     Patrick and I had just joined the Wiggle Club. Its real name is the Work-Grow-Give-Live! Club (Plainfield Chapter), which means its initials are WGGL, which is why all the kids call it Wiggle.
     The Wiggle Club is supposed to teach kids about farming. Or at least it started out like that, a long time ago. It used to be for kids who lived on farms, far apart from each other, and it gave them a way to get together. These days, hardly anyone lives on farms; most of the land has been taken over by giant companies. Then the Wiggle clubs got started in cities and suburbs, so now we have one in Plainfield.
     That’s what Mr. Maxwell told us, anyway. He’s the guy who runs the Wiggle Club, and he owns one of the only small farms left near Plainfield.
     In January, club members sign up to do a project. They work on it for months, and the best ones get chosen to be exhibited at the state fair in August. Now it was March, and everyone else in the club had been working on their projects for a couple of months. Patrick and I had signed up only a week ago, so we were going to have to work fast.
     We’d just attended our first meeting, where we decided we’d do an Animal Husbandry project.
     “Mr. Maxwell?” Patrick had waved his hand. “Why is it called Animal Husbandry? Are we only allowed to work with male animals?”
     Mr. Maxwell laughed. “No, Patrick, we work with both male and female animals. It’s called husbandry because it’s raising animals, taking care of them—”
     Patrick interrupted him. “Then why isn’t it called Animal Wifery? Wives take care of stuff—I mean, like raising babies—more than husbands do, don’t they?”
     Patrick isn’t a rude person, but he really gets into things sometimes, and his ideas sort of pop out of him like he doesn’t have any control over them.
     His question made Mr. Maxwell pause a second. “Hmm. I think maybe it’s because the word ‘husband’ has another meaning, one that not many people use anymore. It means to guard or watch over—like if someone’s resting, we say they’re ‘husbanding their strength.’”
     Patrick thought it over. He said, “Okay, I get it. But wouldn’t it be fairer just to call it Animal Parentry?
     That made Mr. Maxwell laugh again. “That would be fairer. Maybe you could start a campaign to change it. In the meantime—” He handed Patrick a Wiggle pamphlet on Animal Husbandry projects.
     Patrick began reading it right away. He loves to read. He goes to the library all the time, and if he reads something interesting, he absolutely has to tell me about it. Once, when he was reading late at night about crows, he got so excited about how smart they are—they can learn to imitate sounds like car engines or dogs barking, he told me afterward—that he forgot how late it was and called me. My dad answered the phone and yelled at him. So now when Patrick’s excited like that, he sends me an e-mail instead.
     Wiggle meetings are held in the community recreation building a few blocks away from where I live. When the meeting ended, we walked to my house. We went up to my room, and that was when Patrick started reading the pamphlet out loud to me.

Patrick and I went through the whole list of animals. It was discouraging. Most of them were big farm animals, and the rest were ordinary pets—dogs, cats, hamsters. We couldn’t pick dogs or cats because the townhouses we live in don’t allow pets that aren’t in cages.
     “We could do a hamster project,” Patrick said doubtfully.
     “Bo-o-o-ring,” I said. I needed one more piece of thread to finish sewing up the cushion’s seam. I licked the end of the thread, held up the needle, and took a deep breath. I always want to thread a needle on my first try—it’s a thing with me. I poked the thread at the needle’s eye.
     “Reptiles,” Patrick said. “Reptiles are more interesting. Maybe we could raise some kind of . . . of snake. No, not snakes—lizards. Lizards would be cool.”
     I pulled the thread halfway through and knotted the ends together. “I don’t think so,” I said as I started stitching. “My mom hates snakes, which means she probably wouldn’t be too keen on lizards, either. And a snake at your house?” I snorted and shook my head.
     Patrick nodded. “Gak,” he said, which is what he always says when he’s frustrated. “Yeah, you’re right.” Both of his parents work, so during the day his grandmother looks after the family. Patrick is the third oldest, after Claire and Katie, and then Hugh-Ben-Nicky. Their gram does the best she can, but nothing, and I mean nothing, is safe from those three.
     Patrick shares a bedroom with his three brothers, and ages ago he started storing all his important stuff at my house. My mom doesn’t mind, because he’s very tidy about it. He even leaves his backpack here most days, and picks it up every morning when we walk to school. It’s easy, because we always do our homework together anyway.
     “Maybe we should do a gardening project instead,” Patrick said. “Remember that girl Mr. Maxwell told us about who grew three different kinds of strawberries, and made jam from them, and wrote about which made the best jam—”
     “Bo-o-o-ring,” I said again.
     “Well, don’t forget, Jules, she won a prize at the state fair.”
     Patrick usually calls me Jules, which I kind of like. Everyone else calls me Julia. A long time ago I tried out “Pat” in my head as a nickname for him, but it didn’t seem to fit.
     “Yeah, but not for the gardening,” I said. “She won a ribbon for the jam. For the cooking part—you know, that cooking and sewing category.”
     “Domestic Arts,” Patrick said. “But it was still a really good project. Mr. Maxwell said so, because it counted in two categories, Gardening and Domestic Arts. I wish we could think of an animal project like that.”
     Patrick looked at the alarm clock on the bedside table. It was almost five o’clock. “I’d better go,” he said. Now that his older sisters are in high school, they’re almost never home, and Patrick usually helps his gram give Hugh-Ben-Nicky an early supper. He stood up and put the pamphlet next to the clock. “I’m leaving this here. Read it before you go to bed. I’ve already read it, so I’ll think about it. Maybe one of us will wake up with a good idea.”
     That’s one of Patrick’s favorite theories. He read somewhere that people remember stuff better if they read or think about it right before they fall asleep. We always try to study for a test together at bedtime, on the phone or by instant messaging.
     I glanced at the pamphlet as we left the room. It would probably take a while before I got around to reading it. I don’t like to read, not the way Patrick does.
     Besides, he reads enough for both of us.

I’ve got another story to tell you, and I’m going to do it here, between the chapters.

Every story has another story inside, but you don’t usually get to read the inside one. It’s deleted or torn up or maybe filed away before the story becomes a book; lots of times it doesn’t even get written down in the first place. If you’d rather read my story without interruption, you can skip these sections. Really and truly. I hereby give you official permission.

But if you’re interested in learning about how this book was written—background information, mistakes, maybe even a secret or two—you’ve come to the right place. Some people like that sort of thing. It’s mostly conversations between me and the author, Ms. Park. We had a lot of discussions while she was writing. Here we go.

Me: Why am I named Julia?

Ms. Park: You’re named after my sister. Sort of. Her name is Julie.

Me: What about Patrick?

Ms. Park: Oh, that’s just a name I like. But his character is partly based on a boy named Mark who lived across the street from me when I was growing up. Mark had five or six brothers and sisters, and he always had some kind of project going. I liked hanging out with him and was sad when he moved away after only a year in the neighborhood. I guess writing about Patrick is a way for me to spend more time with Mark.

Me: Do you know what’s going to happen in the story? Do you already know the ending?

Ms. Park: I have a general idea of how I want the story to go, but nothing definite yet. Really just you and Patrick and the Wiggle project—that’s all I’ve got so far.

Me: Hmm. It looks like you could use some help. Good thing I’m here. And I have one more question. That part about the friends who thought the house smelled awful. Did that really happen?

Ms. Park: To me or to you?

Me: To you, of course. I know it happened to me.

Ms. Park: Yes. But it happened to me in third grade, not fourth grade.

Me: Is that, like, legal? To change stuff like that?

Ms. Park: It is if you’re writing fiction. . . . Fiction is about the truth, even if it’s not always factual. I changed the fact about the grade, but not the truth about the feelings. Get it?

Me: Yeah. I think so.

Okay, do you see how this is going to work? On to chapter 2 now, and I’ll see you on the other side.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Compelling characters and their passionate the plot...unforgettable family and friendship story...a great cross-curriculum title." BOOKLIST, starred Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"Park creates a Korean-American seventh-grader so lifelike she jumps off the page....introduces many issues relevant to budding adolescents." PW Publishers Weekly

"A rich work that treats serious issues with warmth, respect, and a good deal of humor." KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"This skillfully written tale will have wide appeal." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred School Library Journal, Starred

"Park has a sensitive ear for the nuances of self-doubt and burgeoning self-awareness that permeate junior-high experience." THE BULLETIN Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Julia is a vivacious character...provide[s] interesting glimpses into how fiction is written." HORN BOOK Horn Book

Customer Reviews

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Project Mulberry 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was fairly good but i wouldnt reccoment it. It was okay
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of wonderful lessons to be learned and discussed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone who doesn't buy this book is crazy! I read this in one hour and thirty minutes straight. I couldn't even stop reading it! I would rather rate this 10 stars but I can't. Buy this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HPfan19 More than 1 year ago
I thought this book would be boring and got it because I read another book by this author and it was really good. When I got to the middle I really liked it. It has alot of facts about silkworms but you start to enjoy them. I was wondering what I would do if I was in this situation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Project Mulberry traces an extra credit project between two young 'future farmers' who plan to take the project to the state fair, and win! The have the wonderful idea of combining areas to win by raising an animal, and then use the product from that animal to create something brand new. With Julia's mother's assitance silkworms and silk are decided on. This book is very careful at discussing the fusion of two different cultures and touches even further on the importance of tolerance and acceptance. It's a must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park takes place in Plainfield, CT. This story is realistic fiction and has 221 pages. It is about a girl who makes a friend who¿s name is Patrick. They met when she moved to Plainfield. They become really good friends and are involved in a after school club called Work-Grow-Give-Live or WGGW but Julia and Patrick call it wiggle club. They signed up for the club after it had already started and the two friends were assigned a project on animal husbandry. Julia¿s mom gave them a suggestion. Her suggestion was that they do a project on silk worms because when Julia¿s mom lived in Korea her grandmother raised silk worms. Julia faced some problems but eventually got over them. Julia can be nice but can also hide her feelings easily. Patrick is more caring and outgoing. There was a part in this story that I liked the most. The part was when near the end Kenny gives Julia a Connecticut coin which was what she and Patrick were looking for, for their collection. Kenny had this coin because he wanted to start a collection of his own so he could be like his sister. In return Julia gave him the coins she found but that she already had in her collection. I thought that this part was a nice brother-sister moment. This story is very good and I would recommend it to anyone who likes realistic fiction.
cnolasco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Park, Linda Sue. (2007). Project Mulberry. New York: Clarion.Project Mulberry is about a girl named Julia and her best friend Patrick who are creating a project to enter into the local fair as part of their club, WGGL, which stands for Work-Grow-Give-Live! a local club that teaches kids about the importance of farming. They struggle with an idea for the project for a while because they both live in townhomes so they can't really raise a goat or a cow. Then Julia's mom comes up with the idea of raising silk worms just like she used to in Korea. Patrick likes the idea, but secretly Julia does not because she feels it is too Korean. Eventually Julia comes to terms with the project while learning something about herself and her heritage.This was a quick read and would be most suited for 4-6 graders (possibly even 7th grade). One aspect that was odd is that between each chapter, there is a two page dialogue between Julia, the main character, and Ms. Park, the author. They discuss things that just happened in the previous chapter and they also discuss some of the author's choices, i.e. "Why did you name me Julia?" the main character asks. I thought this was a bit odd and it broke up the story a little bit, but it also didn't seem like it fit. It would have made more sense if the story had been about a young girl who was writing something so she could get tips from the author. Other than the weird dialogue in between the chapters, the book was very realistic - the characters are believable as well as the emotions they go through.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A cute book about two friends doing a project for their Wiggle club - an environmental club. Involves some hard moments where their friendship is on eggshells but also some witty dialogue between the main character and the author in between chapters.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Julia's best friend Patrick wants to do a project on silkworms for their 4-H type club, Julia resists, thinking the idea is "too Korean". Patrick convinces her to do the project, but then they run into some unexpected obstacles. Julia starts to look at the world in a new way when she realizes that many of life's problems don't have easy answers, including her mom's prejudice towards an African-American man who's supplying the kids with mulberry leaves for their projects. Inserted between each chapter are "conversations" between the author and the main character which reveal some of the "inside story" behind the writing of the book. An interesting read about friendship and a myriad of other topics (race, agriculture, the environment).
mrsdwilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Julia Song is uncomfortable with her Korean heritage and is desperate to fit in. So, when her mother suggests that she and her best friend, Patrick, raise silkworms for their science project, Julia agrees, but secretly hopes to sabotage the project. She would prefer something more "American." Through the course of the project, Julia learns to appreciate both her heritage and the friend she has in Patrick.
jepeters333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Julia Song and her friend Patrick would love to win a blue ribbon, maybe even two, at the state fair. They've always done projects together and they work well as a team. This time though, they're having trouble finding the right plan. Then Julia's mother offers to share what she did when she was a girl.
Nhritzuk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I read this story, I became quite excited about the prospect of recommending this story as a read-aloud for Grade 4 and 5 classrooms. Silkworms are an important part of Korean culture for a couple of reasons. One, boiled silkworms are a treat. Two, embroidery is a traditional art practiced in Korea. The identity issue that our main character struggles with as a Korean living in the United States, is one that many of my students can identify with. I also enjoyed reading the dialogue between author and main character in different parts of the book.
moonbridge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book filled with tidbits of interesting and educational information, good kid conversation, some subplots. Readers learn how the author developed the book. Great read-aloud with both boy and girl main characters.
maya697 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not the best, but really good
swimmer_shark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot, because of the conflict, and the way she lives. The conflict is that Patrick wants to do project mulberry but Julia doesn't. The way she lives,(like me) is sort of unfair. For example, Kenny bothers her but he doesn't get in much trouble, but when Julia bothers Kenny, She gets in BIG trouble. It's like me and my brother.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Julia and Patrick are working on a school project. Raising silkworms is suggested by Julia's mother. She resists the idea because to her it seems to be "too Korean". In the process of the project she learns there is value in her heritage. Interesting, charming read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fiction is about the truth,even if it's not always factual. Some people change a fact from a story,but not the truth about the feelings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guys the worms arent slimy they r actually soft and fuzzy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Julia dosent want to do silkworms for Patrick and hers wiggle project. The more she gets into it the more she wants to do it. There are many ways that the story goes. Most arent what you predict. If you want to find out about the ending read the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Project Mulberry is about a girl named Julia and boy named Patrick.They don't know what to do for the Wiggle Project.Julia doesn't like to be korean.She likes to more American.Also,she feels embarressed when her friends go to her house.My favorite part of the book was when tthe silk worms started hatching,and when the worms started making their cacoon.If you like to learn about Korea,read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago