Cowboy on the Steppes

Cowboy on the Steppes

by Song Nan Zhang
     
 
In 1968, as part of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, thousands of teenagers were “relocated.” The artist’s brother was sent to a place that could not have been more different from his crowded, noisy Beijing home. He was sent to the steppes to live with Mongolian herdsmen.

The studious, gentle, city boy had much to learn: he had to memorize

Overview

In 1968, as part of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, thousands of teenagers were “relocated.” The artist’s brother was sent to a place that could not have been more different from his crowded, noisy Beijing home. He was sent to the steppes to live with Mongolian herdsmen.

The studious, gentle, city boy had much to learn: he had to memorize the faces of his cattle; he had to learn to ride with the greatest horsemen in the world; he had to adjust to food, clothing, and scenery wildly different from anything he had ever known.

Despite the hard life, he grew to love Mongolia. His respect for the people who befriended him and his admiration for them were recorded in his diaries.

Song Nan Zhang’s gorgeous paintings are the perfect complement to an unforgettable true story.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3-8Song Nan Zhang, who chronicled his own life in postwar China in two previous books, now illustrates a journal written by his brother. In 1968, Yi Nan Zhang, 18, was sent from Beijing to work on a commune in the vast open grassland steppes of Inner Mongolia, where he was assigned to cutting hay. Bored, he requested to work as a cowboy. The book follows a year in his life among the Mongolian cattle herders. Given a precious horse, the teen was slowly accepted by his fellow herdsmen as he mastered difficult skills. His adventures, told through evocative, brief journal entries, may seem exciting to younger children, while older children will understand the emotional context of the events described with such economy and restraint: the death of an infant, encounters with unpredictable weather, the threat of hungry wolves. Living in several yurts, the young man came to understand the complex working relationships of the nomads. The illustrations, drawn in gentle colors on pages facing the text with occasional double page spreads, are carefully composed, conveying the narrator's shifting emotions and the vast sweep of the steppes. Both art and text depict a way of life that has not changed much in hundreds of years, portraying these distant cowboys with respect and affection.Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887764103
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
09/28/1997
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.91(w) x 10.31(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Song Nan Zhang was born in Shanghai. He received a Masters degree from the Beijing Central Institute of Fine Arts, and his paintings have been exhibited in galleries around the world. Song Nan Zhang lives in Montreal. His son, Hao Yu, was born in Beijing and arrived in Montreal with his parents in 1990. He has a journalism degree from Concordia University and has written for the Montreal Gazette. He now lives in London, England, and works for the BBC.

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