Recommended Books

Grades 6-8 – China

Traditional Chinese Stories: Themes and Variations (C & T Asian Literature Series)

Traditional Chinese Stories: Themes and Variations (C & T Asian Literature Series)

Joseph S. M. Lau

For centuries the Chinese referred to their fiction as hsiao-shuo, etymologically meaning “roadside gossip” or “small talk,” and held it in low regard compared to classical poetry and drama. Not until the 20th century was the Chinese story internationally recognized as a beautiful and vital expression of the Chinese spirit. Spanning the former Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 8) to the early Republican years, these 61 selected stories represent the five major forms of Chinese fiction: pi-chi, ch’uan-ch’i, pien-wen, hua-pen and kung-an. With tables listing each selection in its proper chronological sequence and with extensive notes explaining difficult allusions and the placement of each story in the development of Chinese literature, this collection provides an excellent text for students of comparative literature and Chinese fiction.

Dragonwings

Dragonwings

Laurence Yep

Newbery Honor Book Dragonwings by Lawrence Yep takes readers on an adventure-filled journey across the world.

Inspired by the story of a Chinese immigrant who created a flying machine in 1909, Dragonwings touches on the struggles and dreams of Chinese immigrants navigating opportunity and prejudice in San Francisco.

Moon Shadow only knows two things about his father, Windrider: he lives in San Francisco and used to craft beautiful kites.

One day shortly after his eighth birthday, Cousin Hand Clap arrives with a letter from Windrider asking Moon Shadow to join him in San Francisco. When Moon Rider arrives in America he learns that his father makes a living doing laundry and dreams of building a flying machine just like the Wright Brothers. But making this fantastical dream a reality proves to be no easy task, as intolerance, poverty, and even an earthquake stand in their way.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

Bette Bao Lord, Marc Simont

The hilarious and timeless story about an immigrant girl inspired by the sport she loves to find her own team—and to break down any barriers that stand in her way.

Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams. Her new home is Brooklyn, New York. America is indeed a land full of wonders, but Shirley doesn’t know any English, so it’s hard to make friends.

Then a miracle happens: baseball! It’s 1947, and Jackie Robinson, star of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is everyone’s hero. He proves that a black man, the grandson of a slave, can make a difference in America. By watching Jackie, Shirley begins to truly feel at home in her new country, and that America really is the land of opportunity—both on and off the field.

Dragon of the Lost Sea (Dragon Series)

Dragon of the Lost Sea (Dragon Series)

Laurence Yep

The outlawed princess of the Dragon Clan and her young human companion undergo fearsome trials in their quest for an evil enchantress. ‘Dramatic tension stays high. Weaves Chinese legend into an exciting tapestry of myth and folklore.’ —BL.

Notable Children’s Books of 1982 (ALA)
100 Favorite Paperbacks of 1989 (IRA/CBC)

The Examination: A Novel (Sunburst Book)

The Examination: A Novel (Sunburst Book)

Malcolm Bosse

Fifteen-year-old Hong and his older brother Chen face famine, flood, pirates, and jealous rivals on their journey through fifteenth century China as Chen pursues his calling as a scholar and Hong becomes involved with a secret society known as the White Lotus.

Chu Ju's House

Chu Ju's House

Gloria Whelan

One girl too many . . .

When a girl is born to Chu Ju’s family, it is quickly determined that the baby must be sent away. After all, the law states that a family may have only two children, and tradition dictates that every family should have a boy. To make room for one, this girl will have to go.

Fourteen-year-old Chu Ju knows she cannot allow this to happen to her sister. Understanding that one girl must leave, she sets out in the middle of the night, vowing not to return.

With luminescent detail, National Book Award-winning author Gloria Whelan transports readers to China, where law conspires with tradition, tearing a young woman from her family, sending her on a remarkable journey to find a home of her own.

Bound

Bound

Donna Jo Napoli

YOUNG XING XING IS BOUND.

Bound to her late father’s second wife and daughter. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where a woman is valued less than livestock. Bound to be alone, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society.

But all of this is about to change as Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family’s money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future.

Mao's Last Dancer

Mao's Last Dancer

Li Cunxin

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

The extraordinary memoir of a peasant boy raised in rural Maoist China who was plucked from his village to study ballet and went on to become one of the greatest dancers of his generation.

From a desperately poor village in northeast China, at age eleven, Li Cunxin was chosen by Madame Mao’s cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet. In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, only to fall in love with America-and with an American woman. Two years later, through a series of events worthy of the most exciting cloak-and-dagger fiction, he defected to the United States, where he quickly became known as one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world. This is his story, told in his own inimitable voice.

THE BASIS FOR A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE 

Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution

Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution

Moying Li

Most people cannot remember when their childhood ended. I, on the other hand, have a crystal-clear memory of that moment. It happened at night in the summer of 1966, when my elementary school headmaster hanged himself.

In 1966 Moying, a student at a prestigious language school in Beijing, seems destined for a promising future. Everything changes when student Red Guards begin to orchestrate brutal assaults, violent public humiliations, and forced confessions. After watching her teachers and headmasters beaten in public, Moying flees school for the safety of home, only to witness her beloved grandmother denounced, her home ransacked, her father’s precious books flung onto the back of a truck, and Baba himself taken away. From labor camp, Baba entrusts a friend to deliver a reading list of banned books to Moying so that she can continue to learn. Now, with so much of her life at risk, she finds sanctuary in the world of imagination and learning.

This inspiring memoir follows Moying Li from age twelve to twenty-two, illuminating a complex, dark time in China’s history as it tells the compelling story of one girl’s difficult but determined coming-of-age during the Cultural Revolution.

Snow Falling in Spring is a 2009 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Genghis Khan (Illustrated Biography)

Genghis Khan (Illustrated Biography)

Demi

As a boy, Genghis Khan inherited the role of leader after his father’s death. As a man, he earned it—by fiercely protecting his people, no matter the cost, and by demanding total loyalty from those he led. His is a story of courage and survival, sacrifice and death. The boy who became the great Genghis Khan would take his people from the brink of survival to near-world domination—and lead the largest empire ever created in the lifetime of one man.

Based on both history and legend, Demi’s classic story takes readers into a world of battle and victory—and shows why Genghis Khan has gone down in history as the greatest conqueror of all time.

Father's Chinese Opera

Father's Chinese Opera

The Chinese opera is anything but boring. Songs, acrobatics, acting, and costumes make the opera a truly spectacular show to behold. Spending a summer backstage at his father’s Chinese opera, a young boy is instantly enamored with the performers and works hard to be a part of the show. Rehearsing the moves day and night with the show’s famous choreographer, the boy thinks he is soon ready to perform with the others. But the choreographer doesn’t agree. In fact, he laughs at the boy when asked to join the acrobats. Upset, the boy goes home to sulk. What will he do next? Will he give up on his dream, or will he persevere and work his way up in the show?

A fascinating, heartfelt, and intriguing story that draws on author Rich Lo’s personal life, and features his own bright, mesmerizing illustrations, Father’s Chinese Opera teaches children about hard work, patience, and the commitment needed to achieve an important goal, while introducing them to an important part of Chinese culture.

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Bronze and Sunflower
FREEMAN AWARD WINNER

Bronze and Sunflower

Cao Wenxuan

A beautifully written, timeless tale by Cao Wenxuan, best-selling Chinese author and 2016 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Sunflower is an only child, and when her father is sent to the rural Cadre School, she has to go with him. Her father is an established artist from the city and finds his new life of physical labor and endless meetings exhausting. Sunflower is lonely and longs to play with the local children in the village across the river. When her father tragically drowns, Sunflower is taken in by the poorest family in the village, a family with a son named Bronze. Until Sunflower joins his family, Bronze was an only child, too, and hasn’t spoken a word since he was traumatized by a terrible fire. Bronze and Sunflower become inseparable, understanding each other as only the closest friends can. Translated from Mandarin, the story meanders gracefully through the challenges that face the family, creating a timeless story of the trials of poverty and the power of love and loyalty to overcome hardship.

The Emperor's Riddle
FREEMAN AWARD Honorable Mention

The Emperor's Riddle

Kat Zhang

From acclaimed author Kat Zhang comes a “fast-paced mystery adventure” (BCCB) about a girl who embarks on a hunt for a long-lost treasure while on a summer trip to China.

Mia Chen is on what her mother calls a Grand Adventure. She’s not sure what to make of this family trip to China, and didn’t want to leave her friends for the summer, but she’s excited about the prospect of exploring with her Aunt Lin, the only adult who truly understands her.

Then Aunt Lin disappears, right after her old nemesis, a man named Ying, comes to visit. Mia knows that years ago, when Aunt Lin and Ying were sent to the Fuzhou countryside to work as laborers, the two searched for an ancient treasure together—one that still hasn’t been found. She’s suspicious that their shared history might be linked to Aunt Lin’s disappearance.

When Mia discovers an old map filled with riddles in Aunt Lin’s room, she quickly pieces together her mission: find the treasure, find her aunt. Now, Mia, along with her big brother, Jake, must solve the clues to rescue the person she knows best in the world—and maybe unearth a treasure greater than her wildest dreams.

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Ji-li Jiang

Publishers Weekly Best Book * ALA Best Book for Young Adults * ALA Notable Children’s Book * ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice

In the tradition of The Diary of Anne Frank and I Am Malala, this is the incredible true story of one girl’s courage and determination during one of the most terrifying eras of the twentieth century. This edition includes a detailed glossary, pronunciation guide, discussion questions, and a Q&A with the author.

It’s 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, popularity, and a bright future in Communist China. But it’s also the year that China’s leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution—and Ji-li’s world begins to fall apart.

Over the next few years, people who were once her friends and neighbors turn on her and her family, forcing them to live in constant terror of arrest. And when Ji-li’s father is finally imprisoned, she faces the most difficult dilemma of her life.

Written in an accessible and engaging style, this page-turning, honest, and deeply personal autobiography will appeal to readers of all ages.

FREEMAN AWARD Of Note

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan

Sherry Thomas

A Warrior in Disguise

All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty

Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling—the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

Freedom Swimmer
FREEMAN AWARD Honorable Mention

Freedom Swimmer

Wai Chim

This incredible story about two boys’ swim from mainland China to Hong Kong in search of freedom from poverty and oppression is inspired by a true story

Ming survived the famine that killed his parents during China’s ‘Great Leap Forward’, and lives a hard but adequate life, working in the fields.

When a group of city boys comes to the village as part of a Communist Party re-education program, Ming and his friends aren’t sure what to make of the new arrivals. They’re not used to hard labor and village life. But despite his reservations, Ming befriends a charming city boy called Li. The two couldn’t be more different, but slowly they form a bond over evening swims and shared dreams.

But as the bitterness of life under the Party begins to take its toll on both boys, they begin to imagine the impossible: freedom.