Young readers won’t miss much by skipping this book and going straight to Chen’s adult memoir when it’s time.

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GIRL UNDER A RED MOON

GROWING UP DURING CHINA'S CULTURAL REVOLUTION

When 8-year-old Da’s sister is targeted during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the two siblings flee their hometown for uneasy sanctuary at a remote agricultural school.

This first-person autobiographical account is told in Da’s voice, but the titular girl is his 13-year-old sister, Sisi. The Chens, a landowning family, have been brought low by the social reversal of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Da’s father is in a labor camp, his family is destitute, and their safety is threatened. Da and Sisi’s new school is a respite until a Communist political commissar arrives to oversee the political climate. The situation reaches a graphically violent head when Sisi is brought to testify against their kind principal, who’s been accused of rape, and she must choose between truth and her own safety. Chen’s memoir for adults Colors of the Mountain (1999) was adapted for young adults in 2001 as China’s Son, but this book aims for an even younger audience. While this period in China’s history is heartbreaking and important, the brief explanation of the Cultural Revolution in the prologue may not be enough to allow this age group to fully comprehend the nuances of either the plot or its implications. Terms likely to be unfamiliar to the audience, such as “Marxism,” “bourgeois,” and “feudalism,” are used frequently with little explanation. Lacking deeper contextual insights, the events of this book are merely disturbing.

Young readers won’t miss much by skipping this book and going straight to Chen’s adult memoir when it’s time. (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26386-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A good if limited starting guide.

THE KIDS' FAMILY TREE BOOK

Author Leavitt presents all the components of doing research into family history with easy-to-follow directions for a successful project.

The volume begins with clear definitions about genealogy and why it is important to study. It moves on to give practical tips on getting started and how to map a family tree. It introduces young readers to the important documents that can assist in gathering family facts and describes the information they provide. It gives solid directions for setting up interviews with family members and how to reach out to those who are far away. This is followed up with strategies for using online resources, including warnings on how to stay safe on social media. The work of tracing ancestors from their countries of origin can be daunting, but Leavitt gives some help in this area as well and explores the role geography can play in family stories. There is good advice for collecting oral histories, and the chapter on exploring “The Way They Were” will appeal to many, as will the concluding chapters on family reunions and keeping in touch. All of this is presented in an encouraging, upbeat tone. Sidebars, charts, illustrations, and photographs add to the accessibility. The major drawback is that it assumes a known biological lineage with heterosexual parentage; there is no mention of the unique issues adopted children and nontraditional families might have in trying to put some of the instructions into practice. A short section addresses the challenges that face African-American descendants of enslaved people.

A good if limited starting guide. (resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2320-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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Involving from "the end of my lovely world" to the end of exile (when the Rudomins, as Jews, were jeered in Poland), this is...

THE ENDLESS STEPPE

GROWING UP IN SIBERIA

To Esther Rudomin at eleven Siberia meant the metaphor: isolation, criminals and cruel punishment, snow and wolves; but even in Siberia there is satisfaction from making a friend of a prickly classmate, from seeing a Deanna Durbin movie four times, from earning and studying and eventually belonging.

Especially in Siberia, where not wolves but hunger and dirt and cold are endemic, where shabbiness and overcrowding are taken for granted, where unselfishness is exceptional. At the heart of Mrs. Hautzig's memoir of four years as a Polish deportee in Russia during World War II is not only hardihood and adaptability but uniquely a girl like any other. Abruptly seized in their comfortable home in Vilna, Esther and her family, are shipped in cattle cars to Rubtsovsk in the Altai Territory, work as slave laborers in a gypsum mine until amnesty, then are "permitted" lobs and lodging in the village--if someone will take them in. After sleeping on the floor, a wooden platform is very welcome; after sharing a room with two other families, a separate dung hut seems a homestead. Then Esther goes to school, the greatest boon, and, to her mother's horror, wants to be like the Siberians....Deprivation does not make Esther grim: the saddest day of her life is her father's departure for a labor brigade at the front, her sharpest bitterness is for the bland viciousness of individuals.

Involving from "the end of my lovely world" to the end of exile (when the Rudomins, as Jews, were jeered in Poland), this is a beautiful book with no bar to wide acceptance (and a rich non-juvenile jacket by Nonny Hogrogian). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 15, 1968

ISBN: 978-0-06-447027-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: T.Y. Crowell

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1968

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