Ruby's Wish

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Overview

Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author's grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby's Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who strives for more and a family who rewards her hard work and courage.

In China, at a time when few girls are taught to read or...

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Ruby's Wish

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Overview

Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author's grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby's Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who strives for more and a family who rewards her hard work and courage.

In China, at a time when few girls are taught to read or write, Ruby dreams of going to the university with her brothers and male cousins.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bridges...handles the conflict between Chinese tradition and young Ruby's longing to attend university with grace and compassion....This understated tale takes Ruby's predicament seriously while still celebrating her love of learning and her joyful personality." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"As 'red is the color of celebration' in China, Ruby should bring joy to many young readers. A lovely read-aloud with illustrations to linger over." School Library Journal

"Ruby's determined character will capture the audience's imagination." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"...[A] tale of one little girls's dream to become more than was traditionally possible." Kirkus Reviews

"Told in a concise, straightforward style, the narrative provides just enough background for young children." Booklist

"Bridges' lively storytelling turns what could have been just another family story about a feminist in to a gem." San Francisco Chronicle

Publishers Weekly
Bridges, in her first book (based on her grandmother's story), handles the conflict between Chinese tradition and young Ruby's longing to attend university with grace and compassion. She sets the scene with a description of "a block of houses, five houses wide and seven houses deep, [once] the magnificent home of one family." Ruby lives in this home with her grandfather (who "did what rich men did in old China: he married many wives"). A tutor teaches any of the 100 assorted grandchildren who wish to learn, but Ruby is the only girl who continues to study while also keeping pace with learning her many household duties. Bridges characterizes the heroine as confident and spunky. For instance, she "insist[s] on wearing red every day"; opposite, Blackall (A Giraffe for France) gives a nod to Chinese silkscreening with four poetic images of her, one per season, wearing various red outfits. One day, her teacher shows Ruby's grandfather a poem she has written in calligraphy: "Alas, bad luck to be born a girl; worse luck to be/ born into this house where only boys are cared for." Grandfather questions her about the poem, and she confides her wish to go to university. Years later, at a New Year's Day celebration, he proves that he was listening. Blackall conveys their special relationship in subtle ways: Grandfather's presence on the balcony, observing Ruby at her studies, a gentle stroke of her head when Ruby is called to Grandfather's office. This understated tale takes Ruby's predicament seriously while still celebrating her love of learning and her joyful personality. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Once there lived, in a house in China built by a rich man and filled with his many children and grandchildren, a little girl named Ruby. Her name came from her love of the color red, which she insisted on wearing every day. At this time girls were supposed to learn only cooking and housekeeping because they would marry early. But Ruby, an outstanding student, resents the favoritism she sees the boys receive. She longs to be able to go to a university, as they will. She tells her grandfather her feelings. To her delighted surprise, on a New Year's Day when she expects she will soon have to marry, she receives from him an envelope containing an acceptance from a university. She will be one of their first female students. The low key of the narrative is matched by Blackall's gouache paintings, which are almost devoid of strong emotion. Architecture, costumes, and the few artifacts are all properly Chinese. Jianwei Fong is credited with the Chinese calligraphy shown. There is a quiet, almost posed quality to the page designs; even the willow tree branches on a garden wall seem arranged by a florist. But Ruby herself is an appealing girl, far ahead of her time. She is shown in a frame next to a photograph of the author's grandmother, on whom the story is based. She is an inspiration, and "every day she still wears a little red." 2002, Chronicle Books for Children,
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2-3-Ruby is as bright as her favorite color, red, but she lives at a time in which it is rare for girls to receive education beyond the domestic skills expected of women. Ruby's grandfather became rich in the California Gold Rush and has returned to China, where he has several wives, as is the custom. His sons also have several wives, and more than 100 children live in the very large home they all share. A teacher is hired for all of the children who wish to attend classes, including Ruby, who is a good student. Over the years, she and her grandfather discuss her class work, her thoughts, and her dreams. When it seems that Ruby will have no choice but to marry, her grandfather gives her a very special red packet for the New Year celebration, enabling her to become one of the first female students in a Chinese university. The story was inspired by the author's grandmother's life. The two main characters are well crafted, admirable, and engaging. The flowing text is a complement to Blackall's exquisite illustrations. The beauty of Asian art and motifs is captured page after page in the gouache illustrations, and the family portrait is chockablock full of individuals. As "red is the color of celebration" in China, Ruby should bring joy to many young readers. A lovely read-aloud with illustrations to linger over.-Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In her debut effort, Bridges tells the story of her grandmother’s unique place in Chinese history. Even in a wealthy household, being a young girl in China meant that education was something of a dream, but luckily Ruby’s grandfather had a special place in his heart for his hard-working and talented granddaughter. Making his fortune in the California Gold Rush, one man returned to China to start a household full of wives and children and soon grandchildren. Even when the people in the household numbered over 100, it was easy to spot little Ruby in the group. Red was her favorite color and even when she was instructed to wear more traditionally colored clothing, Ruby insisted in twisting red ribbons into her dark hair. An enlightened man, the grandfather offered education to both boys and girls of the household and Ruby thrived. However, a poem that she wrote convinced her grandfather that perhaps he was not being completely equitable with his progeny. On what she believed to be her last New Year’s Day as an unmarried woman, her grandfather presented her with a letter saying that she had received admission as one of the first women at a university. Softly colored, Asian-inspired gouache illustrations accompany this tale of one little girl’s dream to become more than was traditionally possible. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811834902
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 7/1/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 36
  • Sales rank: 217,008
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 600L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Shirin Yim Bridges comes from a family of writers and artists. She has lived in many countries around the world and now lives in Northern California. This is her first book for children.

Sophie Blackall has illustrated two books, A Giraffe for France by Leith Hillard and 20 Party Tricks published by Chronicle Books. She lives in New York with her husband and two small children. Just like Ruby, her favorite color is red.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2005

    Lovely Pictures, Sweetly Inspiring

    I love the gentle pictures and mood of this story--Ruby shows the kind of determination and courage that we each aspire to. I read this to my class of English language learners, and the girls, in particular, were drawn to the story. Both the boys and girls loved the beautiful illustrations and looked time and time again at the back where the 'real Ruby's picture' was. A lovely book for little ones, but also nice to share with older children and middle schoolers because of the story line and excellent pictures.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2003

    My Chinese Daughter's Favorite Book!

    I have a daughter, born in China, that I adopted to live in America when she was 3 years old. Between photos and retold stories, she is developing a fairly deep understanding of what her place in Chinese society was that landed her in an orphanage. She is 6 years old now. This Christmas I gave her this book, and she likes listening to it over and over. She always wants to look at the photo of the author's mother, who IS Ruby. I think at some level she identifies with the Ruby who was a little girl and the girl my daughter is now growing into. A delightful book for any child, but especially daughters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2003

    A wonderful message for young girls!

    My nieces, ages 5 & 7, are absolutely enchanted by this wonderful story of a young girl whose drive to learn helps her challenge and overcome deeply ingrained societal expectations and limitations. Beautifully illustrated, this is a story to be shared with the young girls in your life!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2007

    If a boy can do it, a girl can do it

    A Chinese girl wishes to go to college instead of being a housewife which is against Chinese tradition at the time. An inspiration for all girls, and boys, to get an education before settling down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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