The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh :: Book Sharing Monday

The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh is a lovely book written by Frederick Lipp and illustrated by Ronald Himler.  The story takes place outside the city of Phnom Penh in Cambodia.  Evocative watercolors and poetic words create a book that is a treasure to behold and to read together. 

Ary, a young Cambodian girl living with her family, dreams of a better life beyond the busy, smog filled city. She sells flowers to the tourists, giving her earnings to her family and setting a bit aside for her dream of tomorrow. Each morning, she visits the bird lady in the market as she saves her hard earned money to buy the brightly feathered bird who will carry her dreams. 


What touched us was Ary’s indomitable spirit.  Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia that borders Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.  It is mainly a farming nation that consists of flatlands, water, and a warm tropical climate ideal for successful rice farming (the main agricultural product).  Though Ary has spent all her life in Phnom Penh, she has heard stories of the green countryside where rice grows and birds fly free.  She dreams of escaping the polluted city where she and her family live in poverty.  But how will she chose the one her grandfather calls the ‘blessed bird’ who has the love of freedom in its heart?


For more information about Cambodia, check out the Culture Keys at Teaching Life Lessons through Literature website.  

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥