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*Mao and Me* by Chen Jiang Hong- young readers book review
 
Also by Chen Jiang Hong:

Little Eagle

The Magic Horse of Han Gan
Mao and Me
by Chen Jiang Hong
Ages 9-12 96 pages Enchanted Lion November 2008 Hardcover    

Chen is only three years old when Chairman Mao initiates the Cultural Revolution in China. The youngest member of his extended family, Chen notes the highlights of the monumental changes that he doesnít truly comprehend; he recalls wearing a picture of Mao around his neck, the destruction of family photographs, the public burning of books and art.

For ten years, as Chen grows, the Cultural Revolution informs and shapes every aspect of life. While the story is told as a matter of facts, there is no mistaking the terror that takes root in Chenís family and throughout his neighborhood.

Between pictures and prose lies the profound story of fear, loss, and acceptance, all couched in a veneer of patriotism. With all this, however, Chenís story reminds us that while change is inevitable, there are those anchors that continue as monuments to who we are and what is truly important.

Chen Jiang Hong combines his skills as author and illustrator in this exquisite tale of his own childhood in China. Through simple prose and traditional Chinese style of art, the author reveals seemingly innocent details of a childís life during the Cultural Revolution. The underlying story is both revealing and heartbreaking, its elegant subtlety drawing shivers down the readerís spine.

Marketed as a childrenís book, Mao and Me is so much more than an entertaining story. The watercolor illustrations set the tone for the narrative, their crisp details a sharp contrast to the spare words that reveal the tragedy of the larger story. This is a book that should be read by parents and children together, so that the unspoken history can be elaborated. Mao and Me, while describing life at a particular time in a particular place, is also a cautionary tale for every culture and generation.
 


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