Friday, April 28, 2017

Review: Bronze and Sunflower by Wenxuan Cao (Author), Meilo So (Illustrator), Helen Wang (Translator)

Synopsis: When Sunflower, a young city girl, moves to the countryside, she grows to love the reed marsh lands - the endlessly flowing river, the friendly buffalo with their strong backs and shiny round heads, the sky that stretches on and on in its vastness. However, the days are long, and the little girl is lonely. Then she meets Bronze, who, unable to speak, is ostracized by the other village boys. Soon the pair are inseparable, and when Bronze's family agree to take Sunflower in, it seems that fate has brought him the sister he has always longed for. But life in Damaidi is hard, and Bronze's family can barely afford to feed themselves. Will the city girl be able to stay in this place where she has finally found happiness? (from the back of the book)

Review: This is a sweet and lyrical tale, part folktale, part myth, part historical fiction, part children’s adventure. With simple prose, the author takes the reader through the history of Sunflower, as she follows her father to the Cadre School. During the Cultural Revolution in China, her father, an artist, is sent to the country to be “educated” in the ways of the simply farmer. His named his sweet and shy daughter for his favorite flower. When he dies, she is sent to live with a nearby country family, who’s only child, a boy named Bronze, is mute. There, through the seasons and cycles of the village, Sunflower and Bronze, brother and sister, face with courage, wisdom, and love the many trials that come upon them.
I would highly recommend this for children. It is an honest book. It doesn’t pretend that life on a farm wasn’t hard, that starvation and death aren’t real. But it does show that family and love are what helps us survive. In addition, the exposure, in a colorful, honest way, to the life in China during this time is perfect for young minds. Enough explanation is given to open up understanding but not overwhelm with useless facts. The story deftly weaves bits of Chinese culture into the narrative and it is excellently done, gibing a clear picture of the wonderful and fascinating world.
Worth reading. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: Hans Christian Andersen Award

ISBN: 978-1406348460
Year Published: Chinese (2015) / English (2017)
Date Finished: 4-18-2017
Pages: 400

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