Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Mah, Adeline Yen.
New York : Delacorte, 1999.
ISBN 0385327072

(2 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

We all remember the story of Cinderella. Remember how she was treated as a servant while her stepsisters were treated as royalty. Cinderella's real father died, leaving her at the mercy of her stepfamily. Adeline's father was alive and offered no protection for her against the cruelty of her stepmother and at times her own brothers and sister. How could one little girl survive such an abusive childhood?  How did she ever grow up to believe that she was worth anything when everything and just about everyone in her life constantly reminded her of her worthlessness? You will cry with her as she suffers one injustice after another at the cruel hands of the very people most children trust to love and protect them. "Chinese Cinderella" is the real life story of an unwanted little girl. Read it and discover along with Adeline how it is possible to defy odds and triumph over adversity.  (Virginia Wright,

Booktalk #2

This is one book where the title pretty well sums up the book. "Chinese Cinderella: The secret story of an unwanted daughter" is the autobiography of Adeline Yen Mah.

Adeline was the 5th child born into her family--and since her mother died in childbirth it was thought that she was bad luck. Between older siblings who teased and taunted, a disinterested father and an evil stepmother, you have all of the makings of a pretty terrible family life.

Although she always excelled in school, she was viewed as a "showoff" by her siblings and stepmother. She is also forbidden to visit any of her friends homes and is not allowed to have them come to visit her either so even school is not easy at times. By the time she was 8 years old she was already being sent away to boarding schools and basically ignored by her family--even though there was a war going on.

While this is not a cheerful book, it gives many important insights into the chinese culture and also helps you to understand that life can sometimes be difficult, but if you keep persevering you will be OK.  (Carol Van Brocklin, Faith Academy--Davao, Davao City, Philippines)

SUBJECTS:     Chinese Americans -- California -- Biography -- Juvenile literature.
                        Women physicians -- California -- Biography -- Juvenile literature.
                        China -- Social life and customs -- Juvenile literature.


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