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Red Land Yellow River: A Story from the Cultural Revolution
     

Red Land Yellow River: A Story from the Cultural Revolution

by Ange Zhang (Illustrator)
 

When Mao’s Cultural Revolution took hold in China in June 1966, Ange Zhang was thirteen years old. Ange’s father was a famous writer whose "Yellow River Cantata" was considered by many to be the anthem of the Chinese Revolution. Shortly after the revolution began,many of Ange’s classmates joined the Red Guard, Mao’s youth movement, and they

Overview

When Mao’s Cultural Revolution took hold in China in June 1966, Ange Zhang was thirteen years old. Ange’s father was a famous writer whose "Yellow River Cantata" was considered by many to be the anthem of the Chinese Revolution. Shortly after the revolution began,many of Ange’s classmates joined the Red Guard, Mao’s youth movement, and they drove their teachers out of the classrooms. Ange and his friends now spent their days memorizing Mao’s quotations and pasting posters in the streets. But in the weeks that follow Ange discovered that his father’s fame as a writer now meant that he was a target of the new regime and that Ange himself was characterized as a "black kid," unable to join the Red Guard. Ange’s whole world had fallen apart.When his father was arrested, he began to question everything that was happening in his country. He secretly read every book in his father’s library, and through his reading discovered the beginnings of another view of the world.

Finally, Ange was forced to join many other young urban Chinese students in the countryside for re-education. While life in the village was challenging physically, Ange found emotional space to develop his own artistic talent.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this intense autobiography, written matter-of-factly but with deep feeling, artist and designer Ange recounts how the revolution shaped his life. A teenager in 1966, the son of Communist Party officials, Ange is among the "good guys" until his father, a famous writer, is publicly humiliated and arrested by the Red Guards, "Chairman Mao Zedong's specially chosen troops." Labeled a "black kid," he is shunned by his schoolmates. His desire to conform leads him to become involved in a faction of the Red Guard until a group from a rival faction violently beats him, and the experience unravels his idealism. When in 1968 Mao sends all students to the countryside to work as laborers, Ange discovers another source of inspiration: painting. ("I had found my own path at last, the path that would allow me to express myself as a human being.") His talent is evident in the book's shadow-dappled, realistic illustrations, which quietly convey not only revolutionary chaos but also the "color, beauty, joy and kindness" he finds in art. Interspersed family photographs and images of archival artifacts (old books and stamps) create a textured and intriguing visual mix, and endnotes offer additional details on Mao and provide important historical context. More than a history lesson, Ange's story will resonate with preteen readers; he shows that not even oppression can squelch individuality-a stirring message of hope. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-Zhang was a teen living in Beijing when Mao Zedong began the Cultural Revolution. In a youthful voice he records his experiences in the early years of that turbulent decade that began in 1966. The son of a "bad guy" (a famous writer) and hence denied admission to the Red Guard troops, the boy set up his own one-person Red Guard unit, participated in some of the struggles that occurred between units, and in 1968 was sent to a small village to learn how to farm. There he discovered his true calling, that of an artist. This moving account of a youngster swept up in the revolutionary fervor and then beginning to question its goals is accompanied by attractive, digitally rendered illustrations often covering an entire page, and sometimes almost a complete spread. There are occasional archival photographs, mainly of Zhang's family. An epilogue sets the historical perspective.-Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780888994899
Publisher:
Groundwood Books
Publication date:
09/10/2004
Pages:
56
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 11.24(h) x 0.48(d)
Lexile:
NC740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 10 Years

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