Sunday, April 29, 2007

Book Review- Chinese Cinderella

This book grabbed my attention at my local public library because of the photo of the sad little girl on the front. And what a truly sad story this book presents. Yen Jung-ling's (Adeline Yen Mah) mother died shortly after her birth. Because of this, her family considered her bad luck and emotionally and physically abused her throughout her life. Adeline's father remarries and soon two new children are born into the family. However, things do not go well for little Adeline. Her stepmother, Niang, favours her own children and the family becomes increasingly disfuntional as the years pass. Adeline, her Aunt Baba, and her grandparents Ye Ye and Nai Nai struggle to hold on to some semblance of dignity and to help one another cope. Despite her terrible home life, Adeline remains a top student, even becoming class president and winning the International Play-writing Competition in 1951-52. With the wonderful encouragement from her Aunt and grandfather, she struggles to believe in her own selfworth.

This book is fascinating but ends rather abruptly with Adeline being sent off to England to study medicine, thus leaving readers to wonder how the rest of her life turned out. For that, readers are directed to read her book, Falling Leaves.

Chinese Cinderella provides many insights into Chinese life during the early part of the last century, prior to the fall of China into Communism. There is an interesting recounting of the discussion by Adeline's grandfather on the subtlety of the Chinese language and of her grandmother telling Adeline about having her feet bound at the age of three. Included are black and white photos of Adeline's family, but none of her birth-mother because her father ordered all the photos of his first wife destroyed.

Recommended for teens and older.

Book Details:
Chinese Cinderella
The true story of an unwanted daughter.
by Adeline Yen Mah
1999 Dell Laurel-Leaf

Monday, April 16, 2007

Library Humour: Part 2

As I've mentioned in my profile, one of my areas of interest in librarianship is the information seeking behaviour of various user-groups in the academic library. My areas of interest include the information-seeking behaviour of science librarians and also how students use Google to locate information on the Internet.
However, in my search on the web, I recently came across a special user group that I've not read about. To read more about the research skills of this user group click the link below.

This link provides evidence of the kind of cutting-edge research into information-seeking behaviour that is being undertaken by librarians these days. It is a webpage devoted to the information seeking behaviour of peeps
which I think many of our library staff will find very informative. The webpage covers beginning library research, advanced library research skills and the library behaviours (positive and negative) of peeps. (Some peeple have ALOT of spare time !)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Friday, April 6, 2007

Book Review

I recently decided that I would officially collect children's picture books, since I own so many of them.I like these books to have attractive illustrations and an engaging story. Rachel's Library has both. The cover, as you can see by the photo in this post, is very colourful and each page inside is the same, with beautiful paintings in deep reds, blues and greens. The author, Richard Ungar, is a lawyer by profession, but obviously, also a talented painter and storyteller.Smileys
Rachel's Library is about a young girl who lives in the village of Chelm. The villagers are seeking a way to show outsiders that there is something special about their town. And it is Rachel who comes up with a unique idea, one that all the people of Chelm can participate in - a library! And, what a library!
This book is suitable for children from 7 to 10 years of age. I look forward to reading Ungar's other books, Rachel's Gift and Rachel Captures the Moon.

Book Details:
Rachel's Library
by Richard Ungar
2004 Tundra Books

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Book Review

I quickly grabbed a book from the local public library this weekend that I thought might interest me. It is "West against the wind" by Liza Ketchum Murrow.
It looked similiar to several books I've read in the past year that deal with young women during the American pioneer era of the mid-West.Smileys
This book tells the fictional story of Abby Parker and her family as they journey from Independence Missouri to California in 1850 to meet up with their father who has been hit by "gold fever". Along the way, they meet up with a young man, Matthew Reed who confides to Abby a terrible family secret.

The novel explores several themes including the California Gold Rush and its impact on families of the period, the hardship these pioneers endured especially the women), the fallen young woman in society, and the coming of age of a young teenage girl.

I found the story riveting at times and also very sad with its graphic descriptions of the monotony of walking across the open prairie, the greed of men taken by "gold fever", the struggles of Abby to grow more independent and the love within families and also that shown to total strangers. The author effectively portrays to the reader the determination people of this era must have had to open up the far west of the continent.

I found this book in the children's section of my local public library, but because of the coming of age issues as well as other issues dealt with in the book, I feel it's better suited to the YA shelf. Although the descriptions of the Abby's reactions to the physical changes of puberty, marriage and childbirth are tame by comparison to current novels, I feel teen readers would probably identify more readily with her reactions than the younger reader. Some of Abby's negative reactions towards the physical changes she experiences are not resolved outwardly in the novel, although the reader is left with the impression near the end of the book, that she is becoming more confident and comfortable as a young woman.

Book Details
West against the wind
Liza Ketchum Murrow
Holiday House New York, 1987