Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Top 5 China in Your Hands

List by Annie

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us."
- Hal Borland

It’s Chinese New Year – and how better to celebrate and acknowledge this event, than by reading some of these books set in China. Whether they’re historical or fantastic, they’re worth checking out.

Mei-Mei loves the morning / Margaret Tsubakiyama; illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
A young Chinese girl and her grandfather enjoy a typical morning riding on grandpa's bicycle to do errands and meet friends in the park.

Annie's note: Some things are universal – like hanging out with your beloved grandfather.

The story about Ping / Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese
A little duck finds adventure on the Yangtze River when he is too late to board his master's houseboat one evening.

Annie's note: Having been in print since 1935, this classic picture book must have something going for it. And it does – character.

Dragonkeeper / Carole Wilkinson
Ancient China, Han Dynasty. A slave girl saves the life of an ageing dragon and escapes her brutal master. Pursued by a ruthless dragon hunter, the dragon and the girl cross China carrying with them a mysterious stone that must be protected. Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the year, Younger readers, 2004.

Annie's note: First in a series, this is a great introduction to a heroine with gumption, and a grumpy old dragon.

Chinese Cinderella / Adeline Yen Mah
The story of a Chinese woman and how she suffered appalling emotional deprivation and rejection by her family as a child growing up in China and Hong Kong. She tells of the consequences in her adult life, above which she rose to make a happy marriage and become a successful doctor in the USA.

Annie's note: The young adult version of 'Falling leaves' is worth getting – if only because it’s more likely to be available! Have a few tissues ready.

Mao’s last dancer / Li Cunxin
At the age of 10, Li Cunzin was chosen to train as a ballet dancer at Madam Mao's Peking Dance Academy. His selection was based purely on his physique and the fact that he came from a family that had been peasants for three generations - he knew nothing about the art form at all. Ages 14+

Annie's note: Stunning. Well worth reading – rather than watching the movie. The cultural contrasts are mind-boggling. Also check out 'The peasant prince' - a picture book adaptation.

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