"Inspired by the folktale 'The Crane Wife,' this novel engagingly melds an immigrant story with folklore and fantasy." — Booklist
Circle of Cranesby Annette LeBox
Thirteen-year-old Suyin is a poor orphan who has a strange gift with languages and a mysterious connection to the cranes in her small Chinese village. When a shady human trafficker arrives promising luxury and riches beyond belief in America, the villagers elect Suyin - whom they consider
A lyrical fantasy blending fairy tale elements with contemporary issues
Thirteen-year-old Suyin is a poor orphan who has a strange gift with languages and a mysterious connection to the cranes in her small Chinese village. When a shady human trafficker arrives promising luxury and riches beyond belief in America, the villagers elect Suyin - whom they consider lucky - to go as their benefactress. But instead of luxury, Suyin is forced to work in a sweatshop in New York City's Chinatown. Suyin's future seems hopeless, until her beloved cranes arrive and reveal that she is no ordinary girl - instead, she is the daughter of the Crane Queen. Now her mother's life is in danger, and Suyin must prove herself worthy of her position as the Crane Princess, in order to save her mother and the entire clan of cranes.
For fans of Grace Lin and Laurence Yep, this is a beautiful story of the meaning of family and finding one's true path in life.
- Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Penguin Group
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 659 KB
- Age Range:
- 10 - 14 Years
Meet the Author
Annette LeBox is an environmental activist who divides her time between Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, and a remote cabin in the Caribou grasslands.
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CIRCLE OF CRANES is based on an old Asian folktale you may have never heard of, The Crane Wife. While the most well-known version of the tale is Japanese, there are various renditions of the tale in other Asian cultures as well. Annette LeBox reveals the tale as she writes for anyone unfamiliar with the story and weaves lore of women who can turn into cranes into a sophisticated story full of truth as it reveals the grit and crime of the world's underbelly. I'll admit that for most of the time I was reading, I labored under the wrong impression that I was reading historical fantasy from the turn of the twentieth century as immigrants flocked to the melting pot of the US in unsavory conditions in order to prosper. Sweatshops and labor strikes flourished at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and that's what I thought I was reading. It wasn't until the end when one character has a cell phone that I thought, "Huh, that's odd." It turns out that LeBox has woven her novel around a smuggling incident that occurred in British Columbia, Canada in 1999/2000, where ships were intercepted and shown to be inhumane, the passengers in the worst of conditions. She also looks in-depth at the "intimidation methods used by human smugglers toward undocumented garment workers in the sweatshops of Chinatown, New York" (pg. 338). I had no clue that such places still existed today and that in some ways, life never evolved. The thought is horrifying. Lebox's blog features more articles involving her detailed research into CIRCLE OF CRANES. She also talks about her trip to China, where she discovered the Miao Minority in Guizhou, which she calls "the poorest and least visited province in China." The area very much follows the ways of the past, having never modernized, which is one reason I thought I was in Ancient China when reading about Cao Hai Lake at the book's beginning. There is a custom that girls must be exquisite embroiderers. If they aren't, they have less of a dowry and can't make a good marriage. In CIRCLE OF CRANES, main character Suyin is forbidden to learn embroidery. Her grandfather thinks her mother's embroidery ensnared and ruined his son. This lowers her prospects at marriage and a good life. With two parents and her grandparents dead, Suyin bounces from house to house with no permanent home. When a Snakehead (What the Chinese call human smugglers) comes and offers to take one person from the village to the United States in exchange for payment, the village chooses Suyin. She's promised a cruise ship and streets paved with gold, only to find herself crushed into the belly of a dinky boat crammed three-to-a-bed, with little food and too many rats. In New York, she's locked away in a safehouse, and seldom paid for her labor. There are hired thugs willing to kill if immigrants attempt escape without repaying their debt. On top of that, most of the workers were paid between $1-$3 USD, which is despicable and well below minimum wage. Suyin suffers in the new world, hating that she and her entire village have been duped. Back home, she had an encounter with cranes and was told that she was to undertake a quest, able to one day turn into a crane herself. In New York, the cranes teach her how to embroider, and she slowly tries to improve her circumstances and take her place in the world, to both fulfill her quest to become one with her crane sisters and stand up for what's fair for the friends laboring with her in the slums of New York.