Mao and Me

Mao and Me


Written and illustrated by Chen Jiang Hong
Translated from French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick

A 2010 Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner

In a city in the north of China in the middle of the 1960s, a little boy lived an ordinary life, similar to that of many Chinese children. He lived with his parents, grandparents, and two sisters in a small apartment. He watched his grandfather practice T'ai Chi and his grandmother cook. He loved to draw, but since his family didn't have any money for paper, he drew on the floor with a pencil. One day, Chairman Mao proclaimed the Cultural Revolution. It was the beginning of a terrible, yet glorious period. Every day, horrible things occurred, and yet the entire country, led by its youth, maintained its faith in its leader. 

The little boy of this book is Chen Jiang Hong, who has written and illustrated many books for children. It is through his eyes that we learn about his family and bear witness to a truly terrible period of recent history. 

This is Chen's first book about his childhood, and he wrote it to give children all over the world the chance to find out about the world that shaped him. Chen's childhood was ordinary in that, like any child, he loved to build, catch fireflies, chase buses, and go to the movies. It was unusual in that he grew up during the Cultural Revolution. While wanting his readers to know what life was like then, Chen also hopes that you will discover the similarities that exist between your own life and his. For despite all of the differences between us, there are always feelings and experiences that we share in common. 

ISBN: 978-1-59270-079-0
10.2" (W) x 11.5" (H) • 96 pages • HCJ

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A 2010 Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner
Selected for the 2009/2010 Great Lakes Great Books Award Ballot for Grades 6–8
Editor's Choice Award, Library Media Connection

★ “In its excellence in representing political upheaval through the eyes of a child, this book belongs next to Peter Sís’s The Wall; in its directness, next to the work of Allen Say. The indefatigable energy of Chen’s brush, though, is all his own.” —STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly

★ "This powerful work joins [the] growing list of outstanding memoirs about the era." —STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal

"Chen Jiang Hong was a small boy when this tumultuous period began, and in these illustrated pages he captures the bewildering cruelties wreaked on the people of his neighborhood in a northern Chinese city. [...] What makes this memoir especially interesting - and thought-provoking - is the way Chen conveys the consuming political hysteria of the time: Having witnessed the awful acts on Mao's cultural shock troops, the boy was nonetheless thrilled when, at 8, he was finally old enough to wear the armband of the Little Red Guard." —Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal

"The beautifully detailed, somber ink and watercolor paintings vibrantly capture 1960s China from a child's perspective, and the generous page size allows Chen free reign in laying out and sequencing his images: half a dozen small paintings of ration tickets and scarce foodstuffs along the top of one page, for example, or a dizzying panorama of crowds at a rally sprawling across two others. The prose is lean and elegant, but the story it recounts is hardly bedtime material. With this intensely personal family history, Chen moves into Art Spiegelman territory, marking Mao and Me as a Cultural Revolution counterpart to Maus, slighter and more understated but with a similar emotional punch." —Jing Daily

"Chen Jiang Hong combines his skills as author and illustrator in this exquisite tale of his own childhood in China. Through simple prose and traditional Chinese style of art, the author reveals seemingly innocent details of a child’s life during the Cultural Revolution. The underlying story is both revealing and heartbreaking, its elegant subtlety drawing shivers down the reader’s spine. … Marketed as a children’s book, Mao and Me is so much more than an entertaining story. The watercolor illustrations set the tone for the narrative, their crisp details a sharp contrast to the spare words that reveal the tragedy of the larger story. This is a book that should be read by parents and children together, so that the unspoken history can be elaborated. Mao and Me, while describing life at a particular time in a particular place, is also a cautionary tale for every culture and generation." —Deborah Adams, Curled Up With a Good Kid's Book


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