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Girl Under a Red Moon: Growing Up During China's Cultural Revolution (Scholastic Focus)

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New York Times bestselling author Da Chen weaves a deeply moving account of his resolute older sister and their childhood growing up together during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In a small village called Yellow Stone, in southeastern China, Sisi is a model sister, daughter, and student. She brews tea for her grandfather in the morning, leads recitations at school as cla New York Times bestselling author Da Chen weaves a deeply moving account of his resolute older sister and their childhood growing up together during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In a small village called Yellow Stone, in southeastern China, Sisi is a model sister, daughter, and student. She brews tea for her grandfather in the morning, leads recitations at school as class monitor, and helps care for her youngest brother, Da. But when students are selected during a school ceremony to join the prestigious Red Guard, Sisi is passed over. Worse, she is shamed for her family's past -- they are former landowners who have no place in the new Communist order. Her only escape is to find work at another school, bringing Da along with her. But the siblings find new threats in Bridge Town, too, and Sisi will face choices between family and nation, between safety and justice. With the tide of the Cultural Revolution rising, Sisi must decide if she will swim against the current, or get swept up in the wave. Bestselling author Da Chen paints a vivid portrait of his older sister and a land thrust into turmoil during the tumultuous Chinese Cultural Revolution.


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New York Times bestselling author Da Chen weaves a deeply moving account of his resolute older sister and their childhood growing up together during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In a small village called Yellow Stone, in southeastern China, Sisi is a model sister, daughter, and student. She brews tea for her grandfather in the morning, leads recitations at school as cla New York Times bestselling author Da Chen weaves a deeply moving account of his resolute older sister and their childhood growing up together during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In a small village called Yellow Stone, in southeastern China, Sisi is a model sister, daughter, and student. She brews tea for her grandfather in the morning, leads recitations at school as class monitor, and helps care for her youngest brother, Da. But when students are selected during a school ceremony to join the prestigious Red Guard, Sisi is passed over. Worse, she is shamed for her family's past -- they are former landowners who have no place in the new Communist order. Her only escape is to find work at another school, bringing Da along with her. But the siblings find new threats in Bridge Town, too, and Sisi will face choices between family and nation, between safety and justice. With the tide of the Cultural Revolution rising, Sisi must decide if she will swim against the current, or get swept up in the wave. Bestselling author Da Chen paints a vivid portrait of his older sister and a land thrust into turmoil during the tumultuous Chinese Cultural Revolution.

30 review for Girl Under a Red Moon: Growing Up During China's Cultural Revolution (Scholastic Focus)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jiny S

    I listened to this audiobook while visiting Guangzhou, one of the largest cities in China in terms of its economy and population. The advancement in technology and ideology in recent years is unmatched anywhere else. It is fascinating to discover China’s history, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, from different perspectives. Its recent history leaving traces everywhere if you know what to look for. Perhaps the most obvious place is Guangdong’s Museum of Art, where expensive pieces of battle worn I listened to this audiobook while visiting Guangzhou, one of the largest cities in China in terms of its economy and population. The advancement in technology and ideology in recent years is unmatched anywhere else. It is fascinating to discover China’s history, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, from different perspectives. Its recent history leaving traces everywhere if you know what to look for. Perhaps the most obvious place is Guangdong’s Museum of Art, where expensive pieces of battle worn soldiers in green uniform are portrayed as heroes and paragons of sacrifice, a virtue prized above all else. I browsed the gallery while listening to this story. The dichotomy between the discourse spoken into my ears and the narrative illustrated by elaborate oil paintings in front of me is a disconcerting experience in the beginning, but flows into a satisfying understanding as I begun to see the roots and its tendrils into modern society of one very influential culture. In Chinese culture, the family is a cohesive unit. Siblings take care of each other in stark contrast of the Western stereotypical sitcom family, where small things are turned into zero sum games replete with snarky bickering. (Of course, not all North American families with children are like this, but it seems to be the norm at least in stereotypes.) In the story, the protagonist is fiercely protective of her little brother, and such sentiment is apparent only when he is in physical danger. It is perhaps because of the presence of external threat that families are bonded strongly together. In the absence of such threats, siblings may turn against each other for play competition, as predatory animals do in the wild to hone their hunting skills. When external threats are intense, such as in the setting of the story, the enemy is the state and the family is the refuge. Even when external pressures are lessened in modern times, culture will persist. As in the story, there’s a darker side to every revolution, and some more ghastly than others. What the story did well was making the reader see the unfairness, especially for the group that was push to the fringe. It was not one meritorious, deserving group leading the masses and overturning the unfair distribution of wealth. Maybe it is in theory, but in reality to the people living the experience it was just one set of bully replacing another. There are parts of the story where it can get uncomfortable. The bullying and condemnation practices can get graphic. To me, it felt realistic. History can be raw and cringy and horrible. No need to paint it over with poetry. The ending was surprising in it’s blandness. Things just go on. Slowly, it gets back to some semblance of normal. For me, there’s repressed anger in the void. It’s anger at the injustice, but combined with the tiredness from the atrocities and unfairness. The story didn’t end abruptly, but the events did. Leaving China, I reflected on the adaptation of technology, some of them relating to face scans and fingerprints and cameras Westerners would have found intrusive. People have different ideas of freedom. Freedom itself is an abstract concept, created from the absence of oppression. Some oppressions are more oppressive than others. China was great to travel to as a whole. It’s big on culture and rich in history, both the good and the bad. I’m glad I came across this book. Growing up in China nobody really tells you these things.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    Did not meet the needs of my collection at this time. I find this topic to be hugely interesting, but even I found this a bit difficult to follow. I highly recommend Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine about a girl of a similar age during this time period.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kenneth - PerfectionistWannabe.com

    Wow. What a story! It is hard trying to put myself in the shoes of this little girl, punished because her ancestors were landowners. They believe that the sins of the fathers should rest upon the children for several generations. While Sisi is doing her best to live for her country and to be the best citizen, it is ripped away from her because her grandfather was a landowner. She is faced with persecution from the other members of the Red Guard, so she flees. On the day she runs away, her young b Wow. What a story! It is hard trying to put myself in the shoes of this little girl, punished because her ancestors were landowners. They believe that the sins of the fathers should rest upon the children for several generations. While Sisi is doing her best to live for her country and to be the best citizen, it is ripped away from her because her grandfather was a landowner. She is faced with persecution from the other members of the Red Guard, so she flees. On the day she runs away, her young brother, Da (the author), accompanies her to the outskirts of the town where two of the boys from her school find her running away. They attack her and Da, not realizing that Sisi will fight back. When she does, she immobilizes one persecutor, while the other one runs away. Sisi now has no choice but to bring Da with her. In this coming of age book during China's Cultural Revolution, we follow Da and his sister as they find a new way to survive in communist China. I saw Da Chen speak earlier this year about this story. It is so sad. Sometimes I think these stories are warnings about the different political thoughts and how in the end, it is the people who suffer. The government thrives on that suffering. Of course, as Americans we think that this cannot happen here, but there is always that "What if?" To some degree though, is our government not benefiting off of our own suffering? In China, they had to switch from their old ways to new ways. They were punished for who their families were. Note the past tense there. Many of the stories I've read during this time period painted it bleak, but Da Chen painted the true heartbreak of his country.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Based on the author's life, in the late 1960's , in a small Chinese village where his older sister was singled out as an example because the family had been land owners. Appalling actions packaged for the younger reader. Based on the author's life, in the late 1960's , in a small Chinese village where his older sister was singled out as an example because the family had been land owners. Appalling actions packaged for the younger reader.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Thanks to The Kid Lit Exchange Network and Scholastic Inc. for the review copy of Girl Under a Red Moon: Growing Up During China’s Cultural Revolution by Da Chen. All opinions are my own. This book is a memoir about the injustices faced by many innocent people during the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960s and 1970s. The main characters are eight-year-old, Da, and his thirteen-year-old sister, Sisi. Da and Sisi’s grandfather had his land taken from him and he was sentenced to grueling l Thanks to The Kid Lit Exchange Network and Scholastic Inc. for the review copy of Girl Under a Red Moon: Growing Up During China’s Cultural Revolution by Da Chen. All opinions are my own. This book is a memoir about the injustices faced by many innocent people during the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960s and 1970s. The main characters are eight-year-old, Da, and his thirteen-year-old sister, Sisi. Da and Sisi’s grandfather had his land taken from him and he was sentenced to grueling labor in a work camp. His crime was being a landowner, and there is no room for that in the new communist order in China. Once their grandfather becomes too weak for manual labor, Da and Sisi’s father is ordered to take his place. Sisi and Da must learn to navigate the world around them when it seems like everyone is out to get them. This book gives a heart wrenching first-hand account of what life was like for some during the Cultural Revolution. Some chapters are difficult to read because they are so heartbreaking, but this is an important story that needed to be told. Scholastic recommends this book for mature readers grades 6 and up, but I would recommend this book for grades 9+. There are some mature topics in this book including rape and graphic descriptions of violence that a middle schooler is just not mature enough to handle. I learned so much from this book, and I highly recommend it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Thanks to the @kidlitechange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own. This middle grade novel focuses on a small window of time during the Communist Cultural Revolution. Da Chen paints a bittersweet picture of the life of a family in a small village during the reign of Chairman Mao. For many years, the Chen family has lived in Yellow Stone, owning a chain of storefronts and acres of land that they rented to others for a third of the profits. When Mao took power, he kille Thanks to the @kidlitechange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own. This middle grade novel focuses on a small window of time during the Communist Cultural Revolution. Da Chen paints a bittersweet picture of the life of a family in a small village during the reign of Chairman Mao. For many years, the Chen family has lived in Yellow Stone, owning a chain of storefronts and acres of land that they rented to others for a third of the profits. When Mao took power, he killed most of the landlords, and the ones that survived were sentenced to hard labor. As this story begins, the Chen's father is serving in a labor camp, and the rest of the family are living on moldy yams, caring for two aging and sickly grandparents, and being treated as traitors by their community because of their Grandfather's wealth. Younger brother Da, focuses on the events in the life of his older sister, Sisi during this time. She is not only a beloved sister and daughter, but an important student at their school, serving as class monitor, one of a trio of singers and dancers who performs at school and community functions, and she is fully expecting to be honored with a place in the Red Guard at the upcoming ceremony. Instead, she is not only snubbed at the Red Guard ceremony, but is humiliated in front of the crowd, shoved off the stage, and ordered never to return to school again. She must bear the shame of her ancestors' wealth and privilege. Her family knows this will not be the end of her persecution, so they arranged for her to go to another village, Bridge Town. Her younger brother goes with her and they find refuge and work at the school. At first, they enjoy the beautiful setting and the kindness of the adults that are charged with their care, Principal Jin, Mrs. Lin, and Ya Ba. They work in the kitchen, serve meals to visitors, work in the fields, and Sisi gains a new best friend, Su Lan. When a member of the People's Liberation Army is sent to the school as a political advisor, their safety and security are once again at risk. Commissar Lai is a young man and he immediately seeks the company of Sisi and Su Lan. The three of them spend evenings enjoying the outdoors together, laughing and playing. The girls soon become sullen, their conversations quieter, and Da notices them reading Communist literature. At a school gathering called to condemn Principal Jin, the girls are called upon to denounce their principal in front of the entire school. Su Lan tells the audience that the principal raped her. Sisi, who has clearly been told to tell the same story, tells the truth instead, that he is a good man who has been kind to her and Da. She and Da are immediately locked up in the school office with Mrs. Lin, and brutally injured Principal Jin and Ya Ba. The principal is in dire need of medical intervention, and Mrs. Lin gets villagers to take him away. When his escape is discovered, the others are freed, but they don't feel free. Sisi learns that Su Lan has been raped by the Commissar, and Ya Ba has arranged for her to be transported home. He agrees to deliver Sisi and Da to their home on the way. They are welcomed home and their life as farmers quietly continues. This book, released September 3, 2019, is a quick read that gives a vivid, first-hand look at this tumultuous time in Chinese history. Chen's descriptions are simple, yet beautiful - "The dirt road...was covered with gleaming morning dew. Each wet pearl carried the whole earth within its full liquid moon..." He has a great talent for storytelling and, in this case, I find him to be remarkably candid and far more civil than most victims of such persecution and poverty would be. The continuing ebb and flow of tranquility versus brutality in the story gives readers a glimpse of the underlying uncertainty the Chinese people must have felt during this time. Most booksellers list this novel as being appropriate for ages 8-12, however, I would caution that the story contains violence and talk of rape, which parents may not feel is suitable for the younger end of this age range.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Genevieve

    @kidlitexchange #partner thank you to author Da Chen and publisher @scholasticinc for sharing a review copy of Girl Under a Red Moon with the #kidlitexchange network. All opinions are my own. This book came out beginning of September. Girl Under a Red Moon is a story about a young boy’s experiences living during the Cultural Revolution in China. He tells the reader about a couple of specific events that happened not only to him, but his older sister, Sisi, as well. Da Chen and his sister Sisi live @kidlitexchange #partner thank you to author Da Chen and publisher @scholasticinc for sharing a review copy of Girl Under a Red Moon with the #kidlitexchange network. All opinions are my own. This book came out beginning of September. Girl Under a Red Moon is a story about a young boy’s experiences living during the Cultural Revolution in China. He tells the reader about a couple of specific events that happened not only to him, but his older sister, Sisi, as well. Da Chen and his sister Sisi live in a small fishing village called Yellow Stone, below the mountains in China. Their father used to own storefronts and land, but at the start of China’s Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong, they were stripped of their land and their father was sent to the labor camps. Sisi, wanting to do her family and country proud, is expecting to be selected for the Red Guard at school, due to her diligence and honor to her country. However, she is passed over, and worse than that- humiliated and threatened with violence due to the past “bourgeois” indiscretions of her family. Fearful for her life, she flees to a mountain town and finds work in another school. She takes her brother, Da, with her, who is telling the story from his point of view. At the next town, the siblings find work and friendship. The principal of the school, Principal Jin, welcomes them and puts them to work in a fair and honest way. But when a Red Guard soldier arrives at the school, Sisi finds that she must choose between telling lies that will bring down the principal, or telling the truth so as not to hurt him, which may end up hurting her and her brother. Da Chen, the author, paints a vivid and gruesome picture of how people were treated during the Cultural Revolution if they were landowners or thought to be rich before the Cultural Revolution. I know about this time period, but reading the experiences of two children from the point of view of someone who lived through it opened up a new understanding for me. I wish that the story dived deeper into Sisi’s thoughts and feelings, as the story was told from her younger brother’s point of view, who was just learning about the horrors of his world, and what horrible things people did to the sister he loved. However, he did describe the landscape that he lived in so vividly I felt that I was there- seeing the rice fields and swampy marshes, hearing the frogs, goats, pigs, and other livestock in the village, and smelling the fish, steamed buns, goat stew, and yams cooking in the market and kitchens. I definitely have more of an appreciation for this time period in our not-so-distant history, and want to read more about it. This would be a great addition for students learning about the Cultural Revolution and Mao Zedong’s rise to power and the fear he spread throughout China, as it is authentic but not gruesome enough to be too mature for middle grade readers (it still gives pretty vivid descriptions of violence, though, so read this before your students!).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    I'm glad I made the decision to read a nonfiction book again. Before I started this book though I had to do some research of my own to learn about the Chinese Cultural Revolution since I had no idea what I was reading and did not know 20th century Asian history. My understanding of the Cultural Revolution took place in 1966 in which Mao Zedong, chairman of the Communist Party, wanted to purify the new generation and erase the old ways. He launched his campaign with the help from the younger gener I'm glad I made the decision to read a nonfiction book again. Before I started this book though I had to do some research of my own to learn about the Chinese Cultural Revolution since I had no idea what I was reading and did not know 20th century Asian history. My understanding of the Cultural Revolution took place in 1966 in which Mao Zedong, chairman of the Communist Party, wanted to purify the new generation and erase the old ways. He launched his campaign with the help from the younger generation known as Red Guards to destroy the "four olds": old ideas, old customs, old habits and old culture. Mao Zedong wanted to take control of the Communist Party, but it went out of control. Instead it turned into a massacre lead by the youth. The Red Guard was run by the younger generation and would punish any one they saw wasn’t following the ways of society by beating, hanging them as public humiliation. People who once owned any land or had a higher level of education were humiliated in public in order to destroy the "bourgeoisie". The teachers were banished to rural areas to be reeducated by poor farmers in the mountains. It sounded like the Cultural Revolution was turning society into a single class and eliminating the rich, educated, and artistic people. Da Chen, the author, tells about his life during the late 1960s Cultural Revolution. He explains the struggles that his older sister, Sisi, and he went through because of their family's history. Their grandfather once owned land. The Cultural Revolution punished people who once owned any land by having them dig trenches in the mountainous regions. The punishment was passed down to the next of kin and could only be cleansed after seven generations. Sisi believed strongly in the Cultural Revolution and believed she had a chance to become Red Guard. They had taken that chance away from her and were going to humiliate her. Sisi and Da ran away to another village to stay safe. People who you thought were your friends could turn against you in an instant. People would make false accusations about a person they had known all their life in order to save themselves or their family. Da tells about their struggles to have to hide from those who knew about their family. The only person Da could trust was his sister. Sisi had the courage to standup against bullies and the Red Guard. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. This is a real encounter told by Da Chen about the Cultural Revolution. What disgusted me the most was how brainwashed and unsympathetic the Red Guard was towards their peers and the elderly. We need to educate our next generation about other country’s politics, culture, and history to be more aware of the problems that may not be known to them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Books on the Cultural Revolution in China are certainly not plentiful, which is unfortunate, given the lessons to be learned from that period. One of my favorites for middle grade readers is Red Scarf Girl, and this one reminded me of that book in some ways. In its pages, the author, Da Chen, tells the story of his beloved older sister, Sisi, and her unexpected fall from grace. Even though her grandfather had been a wealthy landholder stripped of his wealth during the revolution, Sisi works hard Books on the Cultural Revolution in China are certainly not plentiful, which is unfortunate, given the lessons to be learned from that period. One of my favorites for middle grade readers is Red Scarf Girl, and this one reminded me of that book in some ways. In its pages, the author, Da Chen, tells the story of his beloved older sister, Sisi, and her unexpected fall from grace. Even though her grandfather had been a wealthy landholder stripped of his wealth during the revolution, Sisi works hard in school and is a class leader in her school in Yellow Stone. She dreams of becoming one of the Red Guards, but instead, she is humiliated in a public ceremony, stripped of all her honors and position, and thrown out of the school. It's clear that she isn't safe in the village, and her mother arranges for Sisi to work and study at Bridge Town, another village. The principal there takes her in and also welcomes young Da, who has accompanied his sister after a violent incident with some village bullies. The siblings are overjoyed to find shelter, food, and friendship in the school, but before long, an up and coming young man, Commissar Lai arrives on the scene and changes everything. At first Sisi and her friend Su Lan lap up his every word and follow him and his teachings. But all too soon, the principal is being denounced as a counterrevolutionary for what is called his "bourgeois lifestyle" (p. 144), Su Lan falsely accuses him of sexual assault, and Sisi refuses to betray him. Although things return to normal eventually with the youngsters returning home and the commissar meeting his just desserts, readers will be intrigued to note just how quickly someone's fortunes can be reversed during such volatile times and how easy it was to wreck someone's reputation simply through accusations. Having Dan Chen as a boy looking on as all the events swirled around him provides readers with an interesting personal glimpse into this time period and these events. As I read, my heart was filled with dread and disappointment that humans could behave so cruelly to one another.

  10. 4 out of 5

    M.L. Little

    @kidlitexchange #partner: Girl Under a Red Moon by Da Chen and @scholasticinc. On sale NOW. ———————- Girl Under a Red Moon is an unusual book. There is nearly no dialogue. It’s mostly description. The descriptions are gorgeous and draw you right in. This is obviously a true story (I’m not sure how much of it is true, but it reads like a man recounting his childhood) and it centers on the beginning of China’s cultural revolution, the end of old China and the beginning of communism. It’s a miracle @kidlitexchange #partner: Girl Under a Red Moon by Da Chen and @scholasticinc. On sale NOW. ———————- Girl Under a Red Moon is an unusual book. There is nearly no dialogue. It’s mostly description. The descriptions are gorgeous and draw you right in. This is obviously a true story (I’m not sure how much of it is true, but it reads like a man recounting his childhood) and it centers on the beginning of China’s cultural revolution, the end of old China and the beginning of communism. It’s a miracle that Da Chen survived and made it to America to tell his story. I know the title comes because he is honoring his adored big sister, but really the book is about Da as a young boy, written in first person. However, a few chapters are from the perspective of his sister, Sisi, and they are in third-person. It sounds confusing, and was at first, but you get used to it. This is the first time I’ve seen a Scholastic Focus book, an imprint of Scholastic aimed at bringing true stories to kids. This book would be great in a classroom accompanied by a study on China and Mao Zedong. Da’s story really is incredible. Thank you @kidlitexchange for the review copy of this book—all opinions are my own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Publisher says it is written for a grade 3-7 audience. Though autobiographical work based on author’s own childhood, this book is written sparsely for a younger audience, but the choice of phrasing makes it seem more for grades 7 and up. Example: “they killed most of the landlords, including my grandfather, who were shot in the head, their gooey brains splashed all over the walls of their ancestral home” (from prologue). Also, two early chapters had Sisi, his sister, perspective (because it was Publisher says it is written for a grade 3-7 audience. Though autobiographical work based on author’s own childhood, this book is written sparsely for a younger audience, but the choice of phrasing makes it seem more for grades 7 and up. Example: “they killed most of the landlords, including my grandfather, who were shot in the head, their gooey brains splashed all over the walls of their ancestral home” (from prologue). Also, two early chapters had Sisi, his sister, perspective (because it was set at school when he wasn’t there to observe the action). I was sad this didn’t continue further in the book. Later the author described mysterious walks between Sisi and 2 others. It would’ve been more interesting to have Sisi’s direct POV and make it for an audience of grade 7 and up. It would’ve been more powerful to let Sisi, the actual person, share in her own voice in the book, rather than having a young male muddle through explaining it. There were examples of assault and sexual assault that the author, as a young boy didn’t understand and is both graphic and vague, at the same time, which might have been done better. It was the author’s , as the young boy, limited understanding of a complex situation and time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Asia

    3.5 stars So, it was a really good book, and I really did like it. However, it read more simply (I guess) than I had hoped, than I had thought. By the summary, I thought there'd be more horrific things, I guess, but it was more tame than I thought. Sure, there were plenty of traumatizing things that went on, but it was more downplayed. Now, I realize this is probably targeted to middle grade readers, but still, I had hoped for a little more. Nonetheless, it was really interesting! It starts with D 3.5 stars So, it was a really good book, and I really did like it. However, it read more simply (I guess) than I had hoped, than I had thought. By the summary, I thought there'd be more horrific things, I guess, but it was more tame than I thought. Sure, there were plenty of traumatizing things that went on, but it was more downplayed. Now, I realize this is probably targeted to middle grade readers, but still, I had hoped for a little more. Nonetheless, it was really interesting! It starts with Da and his sister Sisi in their home village during China's Cultural Revolution. Then, it shows their move to Bridge Town, to attend a different school. The summary claims Sisi will have to make decisions between family and nation, society and justice. While she does make such decisions, they aren't as grand, difficult, or as struggle–some as I would have thought. I, as a reader, do not see any inner turmoil from Sisi's POV. Again, it was a truly good book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    This is a highly readable, educational biographical story about what it was like growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution. It will not only teach readers what so many children went through during those terrifying soul crushing years, but will show them that democracy and capitalism are not bad things, as many in younger generations currently appear to believe. My only concern about this book is that Scholastic is recommending it for readers in grades 3-7. This is a terribly sad and violent This is a highly readable, educational biographical story about what it was like growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution. It will not only teach readers what so many children went through during those terrifying soul crushing years, but will show them that democracy and capitalism are not bad things, as many in younger generations currently appear to believe. My only concern about this book is that Scholastic is recommending it for readers in grades 3-7. This is a terribly sad and violent story. There is no hope in it at all until the very end. Does Scholastic really think an 8-year-old should be reading such a book? I personally would not recommend it for any child in a grade lower than 7th, and would highly recommend it to much older readers who believe democracy is bad and capitalism is a sin. (Note: I received a free ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I picked GIRL UNDER A RED MOON up on a whim for my children, a few of whom are interested in the political upheavals of the 20th century. I also like broadening my children's horizons and bringing them surprises rather than favorite genres and authors. I pictured it to be similar to BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE, but with a Chinese setting and author, and non-fiction. My impulse library borrow paid off. I actually haven't yet gotten to read it myself yet, but my children were fascinated. They said the s I picked GIRL UNDER A RED MOON up on a whim for my children, a few of whom are interested in the political upheavals of the 20th century. I also like broadening my children's horizons and bringing them surprises rather than favorite genres and authors. I pictured it to be similar to BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE, but with a Chinese setting and author, and non-fiction. My impulse library borrow paid off. I actually haven't yet gotten to read it myself yet, but my children were fascinated. They said the story is beautiful, but sad, and they learned a lot. My kids agreed--4 or 4.5 stars. There are allusions to sexual violence and much of the story is disturbing. The book is listed as middle grade, but I'd suggest it for middle school and up. My 14 y o read it and did not feel like it was "too young" in any way.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    At times this true story is very gritty describing hunger, cruelty and also alluding to sexual assault. What makes the story so compelling is the love and loyalty between the author and his older sister. Their lives were incredibly painful and difficult at times due to the Cultural Revolution, so called. It was more a revolution of authority, power and control. Woe be unto a person who defied the prescribed ways of Mao Zedong.This is not an easy book to read. The publisher recommends it for ages At times this true story is very gritty describing hunger, cruelty and also alluding to sexual assault. What makes the story so compelling is the love and loyalty between the author and his older sister. Their lives were incredibly painful and difficult at times due to the Cultural Revolution, so called. It was more a revolution of authority, power and control. Woe be unto a person who defied the prescribed ways of Mao Zedong.This is not an easy book to read. The publisher recommends it for ages 8-12, grades 3-7. I truly cannot see placing this in the hands of a 3rd grade reader, not because of the reading difficulty but because of the content. These are not one and the same. A better recommendation is for grades 4 - 8, upper elementary and middle school age readers.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    It was interesting reading about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, since I didn't know anything about it. The writing style was very good, but not the king of writing style that I like. I felt that it talked too much about nature and not enough about the people and their relationships. I didn't feel like I knew the people as well as I wanted to. Also, there are some very disturbing things in this book that people did to others, even though this is a junior fiction book. I was surprised at the cru It was interesting reading about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, since I didn't know anything about it. The writing style was very good, but not the king of writing style that I like. I felt that it talked too much about nature and not enough about the people and their relationships. I didn't feel like I knew the people as well as I wanted to. Also, there are some very disturbing things in this book that people did to others, even though this is a junior fiction book. I was surprised at the cruelty of some of the people. It was a good book but I don't recommend it for kids who are sensitive.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    The prose is very lyrical and beautiful to read. Unfortunately, I don't know who I would recommend this to. There are some bits that may be confusing to kids because they are not quite spelled out. (view spoiler)[There is a graphic scene with a frog and the little boy that may be confusing because the phrase "down there" is used. Can we not say "penis" in a children's book? (hide spoiler)] Because of the content, I felt like teens might be a better audience, but it is written for younger readers The prose is very lyrical and beautiful to read. Unfortunately, I don't know who I would recommend this to. There are some bits that may be confusing to kids because they are not quite spelled out. (view spoiler)[There is a graphic scene with a frog and the little boy that may be confusing because the phrase "down there" is used. Can we not say "penis" in a children's book? (hide spoiler)] Because of the content, I felt like teens might be a better audience, but it is written for younger readers. I think I would be more likely to recommend that readers check out Ying Chang Compestine's Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party first.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dan Allbery

    In my continued pursuit of locating books set in Asia with Asian characters I took on Girl Under a Red Moon, but was left underwhelmed. Chen's retelling of his (and his sister's) experience during China's Cultural Revolution was accurate, but lacked a certain intensity needed for MG/YA readers. I commend Chen for keeping his historical retelling accurate and not fictionalizing elements just to gain popularity; however, this is a book that would be a hard sell for young readers. Recommended for G In my continued pursuit of locating books set in Asia with Asian characters I took on Girl Under a Red Moon, but was left underwhelmed. Chen's retelling of his (and his sister's) experience during China's Cultural Revolution was accurate, but lacked a certain intensity needed for MG/YA readers. I commend Chen for keeping his historical retelling accurate and not fictionalizing elements just to gain popularity; however, this is a book that would be a hard sell for young readers. Recommended for GR 6-7.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennybeast

    Theoretically, this is a children's book, but it is very heavy on the violence/abuse/bullying. I have no doubt that these are Da Chen's memories and that as events in the Cultural Revolution go, it is presenting a relatively mild experience. From an outside perspective, the book is confusing, the context is confusing, the narrative is a little bit rambling -- very effective at conveying a sense of the world turned upside down for no apparent reason, but also sometimes a little hard to follow. I Theoretically, this is a children's book, but it is very heavy on the violence/abuse/bullying. I have no doubt that these are Da Chen's memories and that as events in the Cultural Revolution go, it is presenting a relatively mild experience. From an outside perspective, the book is confusing, the context is confusing, the narrative is a little bit rambling -- very effective at conveying a sense of the world turned upside down for no apparent reason, but also sometimes a little hard to follow. I found it shocking in places, but I think it is an important and very personal account.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This was an interesting look at the Cultural Revolution in China told from the viewpoint of a young boy whose family was being discriminated against because their grandfather had owned land. The author's sister was kicked out of school even though she was a class leader because of this history and the author and his sister had to travel to another school. This was a quick read and gave you a good sense of the history. This was an interesting look at the Cultural Revolution in China told from the viewpoint of a young boy whose family was being discriminated against because their grandfather had owned land. The author's sister was kicked out of school even though she was a class leader because of this history and the author and his sister had to travel to another school. This was a quick read and gave you a good sense of the history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received this as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Growing up in China, as governmental philosophies were changing led to Da's older sister being ostracized from their hometown and school. The two deal with many challenges because of their family's past. This historical work shines a light onto Chinese history that many American school children may not be familiar with. I received this as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Growing up in China, as governmental philosophies were changing led to Da's older sister being ostracized from their hometown and school. The two deal with many challenges because of their family's past. This historical work shines a light onto Chinese history that many American school children may not be familiar with.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie Overpeck aka Mrs. O's Library

    Review copy from @kidlitexchange. This is an important book about significant historical events that most students know little about, and it is told in an interesting way. There is a description near the beginning of the book of the death of landlords, and also mention of rape later in the book that I don’t think is appropriate for young children, but I would consider it for middle school.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erendira

    Gave up on this book. Tried a great deal to push through the narrative but it wasn't a captivating read aloud for me and my homeschooler at this time. We started this one in the spring season and now picked it up again to continue but the interest was no longer there. The plot appealed to us at first but it didn't keep our attention long enough to finish. Gave up on this book. Tried a great deal to push through the narrative but it wasn't a captivating read aloud for me and my homeschooler at this time. We started this one in the spring season and now picked it up again to continue but the interest was no longer there. The plot appealed to us at first but it didn't keep our attention long enough to finish.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Based on a small time period during the author's childhood in China, this was a harrowing story of fanaticism run amok. I wish there had been more from his sister's POV, and maybe an afterward telling us what happened to the people in the book, but it was a really good book. Based on a small time period during the author's childhood in China, this was a harrowing story of fanaticism run amok. I wish there had been more from his sister's POV, and maybe an afterward telling us what happened to the people in the book, but it was a really good book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    This story was interesting but I didn't really like the writing style. One of my pet peeves when it comes to reading is when too many similes. I just don't like it. I also feel Chen used descriptive words when it wasn't even necessary. This story was interesting but I didn't really like the writing style. One of my pet peeves when it comes to reading is when too many similes. I just don't like it. I also feel Chen used descriptive words when it wasn't even necessary.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Please read my review on Amazon. com under C. Wong. Thank you.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Another view of the Cultural Revolution in China, this time from a more rural perspective. Chen's work is consistently wonderful and does not disappoint. ARC provided by publisher. Another view of the Cultural Revolution in China, this time from a more rural perspective. Chen's work is consistently wonderful and does not disappoint. ARC provided by publisher.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    3.5 Stars. A subtle and quiet rendering of what life was like for Chinese youth during the reign of Chairman Mao’s “Cultural Revolution.”

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tweller83

    It is so hard to rate memoirs. This did teach me what happened to young people during the 60s in China. Unfortunately, it seemed a little too intense for the intended audience as shown by the writing style. It might be appropriate for middle school, just not elementary school. And since the protagonists are so young, not sure many middle school students would pick it up. #Bookopoly roll 2 - Cultural

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sun-Hee Yoon

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