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Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan
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Bronze and Sunflower

by Cao Wenxuan

Other authors: Helen Wang (Translator)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was relieved to see that this was not a social commentary about the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It was a place marker for the period this book is situated in (whew!). With that distinction out of the way, it was a soft, gentle (muted!) story about a little girl and the family that adopted her when she was orphaned. It's a Chinese love story... to be more accurate a Chinese story about love. The images are clear, pure, and tangible. I was touched by it. I'm so lucky to have had the opportunity to read this book. ( )
  kpolhuis | May 11, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Simply beautiful. Though the historical context of the Cultural Revolution gives the story some background (the cadre schools, etc) the story is timeless. I almost felt, when reading it, that all the characters were mute as Bronze was, but they were speaking always through their actions, because the kindness and goodwill just bled throughout the whole book in Cao Wenxuan's style of storytelling. I have to credit Helen Wang's translation for maintaining the simplicity and elegance of the language. I'm so happy that Cao Wenxuan's books might now be making their way to our shores more often. ( )
  shazzerwise | May 9, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Throughout the 400 pages, words paint pictures of little wooden boats, beautiful sunflower fields, paper lanterns, and so much more. You will meet Bronze, an only child who is mute, along with his mother and father and grandmother. Next, you will be introduced to good little Sunflower who has lost her father in a storm and soon is adopted by Bronze's family who are so poor but extremely kind. This lovely story is sure to warm your heart as you see a special close-knit family endure hardships with locust invasions, sacrifice and hardwork with making woven-reed shoes to sell. I especially like how Sunflower teaches her brother the beautiful world of characters and how Bronze makes a wonderful ice necklace for Sunflower. Discover how life in China can be delicate, fragile and fascinating! I love the book very much. Made me cry... Worth reading!

This is the best Chinese Middle-Grade novel! ( )
  LadyD_Books | May 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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. ( )
  empress8411 | Apr 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Bronze and Sunflower
By: Cao Wenxuan
Translated from Mandarin by: Helen Wang
Illustrated by: Meilo So

I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

This book meanders along at a leisurely pace - evoking an entire culture and world through its well thought out prose. It is one of those books that requires you to slow down and just take a moment. Here's an example:
"If people on passing boats scanned the long riverbank, they would spot her tiny figure. They would feel the vastness of the sky and the vastness of the earth, ..."
So yeah - you get the point. Do not skim over this book quickly. Consume its contents slowly to fully enjoy each word picture. It's an excellent translation by Ms. Wang.

Setting:
This book is set in a very specific time in China during the cultural revolution. It's fascinating in that it shows in intimate details how people lived during this period of time.

Characters:
Sunflower, an orphan, comes to live with Bronze's family. Bronze was involved in a frightening and painful fire and hasn't spoken since then. The two become very close. Their relationship defines the word, "family".

Discussion:
Sunflower's dad is an established artist from the city who specializes in (you guessed it) sunflowers. During the cultural revolution, intellectuals, etc. were sent to May Seventh Cadre Schools. I didn't know what this was but looked it up. These camps were "re-education" centers designed to reprogram intellectuals with the beliefs of the new government. They sounded very much like labor camps in that the inmates worked very hard physically all day and in the evenings attended classes. This made for a difficult and lonely life for Sunflower. She saw villagers across the river who seemed so full of life. She could not cross the river on her own to join them and could only watch. Ironically, her father dies by drowning and this tragedy is her bridge across the river. She is taken in by the poorest family who have a son, Bronze.

The book has a sort of fairy tale feel to it - albeit a Chinese fairy tale - in that each member behaves ideally. The mom (who is widowed) is self sacrificing "for the good of the family. Bronze seems happy to add another member to the family even though it means less resources for him. This means skimpier food rations in a family where all the rations were scare to begin with. He even comes up with a way to raise money to send Sunflower to school while not even considering himself. Sunflower is the ultimate, sweet natured girl in the face of all adversity and challenge. She is adorable in an idealized child sort of way so it's impossible to dislike her. However, people like this only exist in fairytales. This book has the lesson of family over self which I believe is a very important Chinese value.

Illustrations:
There are some gorgeous little ink drawings at the beginning of each chapter. They are not a prominent part of the book but I just had to mention them because they are inviting and add to the charm of the landscapes described in this book. In other words, spend a few seconds enjoying each.

Overall:
I loved the lush world created by this author and would welcome more books that let us understand other cultures and their values.

Sent from my iPhone ( )
  pammycats | Apr 22, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cao Wenxuanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wang, HelenTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
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 ostracised 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?
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