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Archive for April, 2020

Mao’s last dancer – Li Cunxin

Li Cunxin grew up in a remote commune village in China. His life was one of daily hardships – there was never enough food for him or his six brothers and his only entertainment, especially during the harsh winters, was being told Chinese fables by his father. His life seemed mapped out – he was “the frog at the bottom of the well” who would have to be content with being able to see only a small patch of sky. Then in 1971, at the age of 10, Li was chosen to train as a ballet dancer at Madam Mao’s Peking Dance Academy. His selection was based purely on his physique and the fact that he came from a family that had been peasants for three generations – he knew nothing about the art form at all. After seven gruelling years of training, with grim determination and the encouragement of his teachers, Li danced through his pain to become a talented performer who won a rare scholarship to America. It was this experience that lead Li, a fervent follower of Mao and Chinese Communist ideals, to discover the truth behind Chinese propaganda. In 1981 he famously defected, certain that in doing so he would never see his family or his homeland again. Through dance, a poor Chinese peasant child found a new life in America – the frog had escaped the well and could marvel at the expanse of sky.

Dirt diary – Anna Staniszewski

WANTED: Maid for the most popular kids in 8th grade.

Cleaning up after the in-crowd gets Rachel all the best dirt.

Rachel can’t believe she has to give up her Saturdays to scrubbing other people’s toilets. So. Gross. But she kinda, sorta stole $287.22 from her college fund that she’s got to pay back ASAP or her mom will ground her for life. Which is even worse than working for her mother’s new cleaning business. Maybe. After all, becoming a maid is definitely not going to help her already loserish reputation.

But Rachel picks up more than smelly socks on the job. As maid to some of the most popular kids in school, Rachel suddenly has all the dirt on the 8th grade in-crowd. Her formerly boring diary is now filled with juicy secrets. And when her crush offers to pay her to spy on his girlfriend, Rachel has to decide if she’s willing to get her hands dirty…

 

Good Reads

The secret garden – Frances Burnett

Mary Lennox is the daughter of rich British colonists of India. She is a spoiled brat who doesn’t know what caring means. When her parents die of cholera, ten-year-old Mary is sent to live in her uncle mansion Misselthwaite Manor. Her uncle, Archibald Craven, lost his wife and can’t stop mourning her. He left control of his house to his brother. To Mary’s surprise, she isn’t waited on hand and foot, but sent outside to go play in the gardens. There, she finds a boy named Dickon who’s followed around by kind animals, a friendly robin and a garden hidden behind a wall.
As she starts to care about people other than herself, the garden, once Archibald Craven’s wife’s, starts to come alive around her for the first time since the wife died. When she finds a boy named Colin, who turns out to be her cousin, he’s a spoiled brat, like Mary was in India, sick with delusions that he’s to ill to live. Mary and Dickon decide to take him into the “Secret Garden” to make him glad to be alive.

Lady Mary – Lucy Worsley

More than anything Mary just wants her family to stay together; for her mother and her father – and for her – to all be in the same place at once. But when her father announces that his marriage to her mother was void and by turns that Mary doesn’t really count as his child, she realises things will never be as she hoped.

Things only get worse when her father marries again. Separated from her mother and forced to work as a servant for her new sister, Mary must dig deep to find the strength to stand up against those who wish to bring her down. Despite what anyone says, she will always be a princess. She has the blood of a princess and she is ready to fight for what is rightfully hers.

Good Reads

Picture perfect (Geek Girl) – Holly Smale

Harriet Manners knows more facts than most. She knows that New York is the most populous city in the United States. She knows that its official motto is “Ever Upward”. She knows that 28% of Americans believe we never landed on the moon.

But she knows nothing about modelling in the Big Apple, and how her family will cope with life stateside. Or how to “become a brand”, as the models in New York put it. And, even more importantly, what to do when the big romantic gestures aren’t coming from your boyfriend…

Does geek girl go too far this time?

Good Reads

Alice-Miranda at school – Jacqueline Harvey

9781741664515Can one tiny girl change a very big school?

Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is waving goodbye to her weeping parents and starting her first day at boarding school. But something is wrong at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. The headmistress, Miss Grimm, hasn’t been seen for ten years. The prize-winning flowers are gone. And a mysterious stranger is camping in the greenhouse.

Alice-Miranda must complete a series of impossible tests. Can she really beat the meanest, most spoilt girl at school in a solo sailing mission? Could she camp in the forest all on her own for five whole days and nights? Well, of course. This is Alice-Miranda, after all.

Random House

Borders

Refugee – Alan Gratz

Three different kids.

One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

 

Good Reads

The magic pill (documentary)

Riverdale (TV series)

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