This has been a bit of an ill week here but it did give opportunity for some reading.Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Bronze and Sunflower is a beautiful children's book, translated from Chinese. It is set in China in the cultural revolution.
Sunflower's sculptor father is sent to a labour camp, known as cadre school, during the Chinese cultural revolution. Sunflower goes along with him but as there is no provision for children, is left to fend for herself, making friends with a mute boy, Bronze, from the nearby country village.
Sadly, Sunflower is left completely alone but is taken in by Bronze's family. Bronze's family are desperately poor and survival is a struggle, particularly, as some natural disasters hit the village. The poor family are united in their struggle to survive and the rest of the family, in their struggle to afford Sunflower's education
I won't spoil the ending but it is both poignant and enigmatic.
Bronze and Sunflower had a slow start but it is worth persevering. I read the book with my nine year old. The Chinese cultural revolution is not a familiar period in history to her so this was an ideal introduction. The book is gentle and whilst there are some deaths, the book is not violent. The way in which society was set up with great civic control, no obvious religion and strong family bonds are places for discussion but there are plenty of other points for pondering.
We were left checking the internet to see whether any other of Cao Wenxuan's books are available in English. Highly recommended for an insight into a different culture.
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