“Our leader had taken advantage of our trust and loyalty to manipulate the whole country. This is the most frightening lesson of the Cultural Revolution: Without a sound legal system, a small group or even a single person can take control of an entire country. This is as true now as it was then.” page 266
Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji Li Jiang. Scholastic, New York, originally published 1997, my edition 1999. MG nonfiction, 284 pages. Lexile: 780L . AR Level: 5.0 (worth 8.0 points) .
A girl becoming a young adult during the Cultural Revolution adores Mao but is troubled by the practical realities of the drastic changes, especially when they start to impact her own family. She has to decide how to navigate high-stakes and nuanced situations – and ultimately whether her loyalty lies with the Communist Party or with her own family.
I was excited to pick this back up – much like The Arrow Over the Door, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, or many of Laurence Yep’s earlier works, I haven’t read through it in at least a decade. With some others, I misremembered major elements, so for this one I tried to recall what had stuck with me for over a decade.
It’s about one preteen/teen girl’s life in China between 1966 and 1968 as major changes occur to her family and community. But I must admit the most memorable aspect was the cover with her disembodied head over the flag, so encountering a used copy with that same 1990s cover was nostalgic. Newer versions have a cover more likely to be picked up by modern students.
“When Steve grasped the painting, it tingled against his fingertips. He felt as if he had rubbed his shoes fast over a carpet.” p. 19
The Magic Paintbrush by Laurence Yep, illustrated by Suling Wang.
HarperTrophy, HarperCollins, New York, 2000.
Historical fantasy, 90 pages.
Lexile: 530L .
AR Level: 3.8 (worth 2.0 points) .
Eight-year-old Steve’s parents and all of his belongings are gone after a tragic fire, and now he shares a single room in Chinatown with his grandfather and Uncle Fong (no relation but a childhood friend of Grandfather’s). They are so poor that after his paintbrush split in art class, he’s afraid to go home and tell his Grandfather, knowing that a new one is not possible.
For a book with magic in the title, this book takes a while to get to the fantasy part. The first chapters are all about establishing the setting – early 1960s San Francisco – and characters. The tale of a magic paintbrush given to a poor boy who uses it to spread happiness is a Chinese story that has been retold many times, mostly in picture books. Yep has a unique historical Chinese-American spin to his version though.
The title of this week’s Website Wednesday was a bit of a challenge! Basically I wanted post a few of the videos that we’ve used to try to learn more about classical Chinese music, dance, and opera. Continue reading “Web: Chinese Performance Art”