Chinese Cinderella & the Secret Dragon Society - Adeline Yen Mah

Since we're in a smaller community, the library gets some books from a rotating collection that gets swapped out every so often, so I like to browse those to see what's new. I came across this book and was interested for two reasons: first, I'd read Adeline Yen Mah's A Thousand Pieces of Gold; secondly, I've recently been reading Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China to Ridley, so I was curious what Mah was doing with the story.

Briefly, Yeh-Shen is a story from the Tang dynasty, predating the oldest European version of Cinderella by roughly a thousand years. It's not quite the same, but a lot of the elements are there, including the important lost slipper. (Instead of a fairy godmother, there's a talking fish.) In Mah's story, there's a young girl with the name Ye Xian (a more modern spelling, but the same name) who gets the nickname "Chinese Cinderella." But CC, as she becomes known, is not living in a fairy tale. She's in Shanghai during World War II, and the Chinese are living under Japanese occupation.

Mah weaves actual events from the war, particularly the bombing of Japanese cities by the Doolittle Raiders, with her fictional account of CC as she joins the Secret Dragon Society, learns kung fu, and plots to help the Americans in the war. As with A Thousand Pieces of Gold, there are Chinese proverbs scattered throughout the story. Mah has helpfully included a glossary of Chinese words and phrases, plus a historical note explaining some of the background and noting where she strayed from history.

It's a pretty good mix of action/adventure, Eastern philosophy, Chinese history, and some moral lessons, but I did feel like there was some conflict between the lesson "do not hate" and the portrayal of CC's stepmother and most of the Japanese as brutal and unforgivable. The writing is not spectacular, but I think it's a fun way for younger readers to learn a little about Chinese culture.

Fed to jonathan's brain | October 03, 2007 | Comments (1)


it was very good, I like the story very much tnx

Posted by: Dave cuenca at November 12, 2007 02:48 AM

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