BOOK GROUPS

Cartoonist Keiji Nakazawa was seven years and living in Hiroshima in the early days of August 1945 when the city was destroyed by an atomic bomb dropped by the United States.  Vol II, The Day After, tells the story of the day after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, as seen through the eyes of seven-year-old Gen Nakaoka.  

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball by Dori Jones Yang is a lively, nuanced novel for children ages 10-14 based on the real-life experiences of 120 boys sent to American by the Emperor of China in the 1870s, expected to live with American families, get into college, learn technology, and return home to modernize China. These real 120 Chinese boys formed the Chinese Educational Mission to the United States, organized by education pioneer Yung Wing. This book brings their story to life for children of today. 

This is the third in a series of 3 Book Groups on essential literary texts from China, Japan, and Korea. You may participate in any one or more of the groups. The same book will be the basis for reading and discussion in all three book groups.

Read excerpts from the canonical works of Korean literature, excerpts that are suitable for later use with students. Discuss them on weekly, asynchronous on-line discussion boards. 

Chinese Literature: An Introduction (Ihor Pidhainy)

In this brief yet thorough introduction to the key features and important names of Chinese literature, Ihor Pidhainy covers Chinese writings from oracle bones to the internet. Contextualizing the literature within political, historical and cultural frames, Prof. Pidhainy also provides a smorgasbord of examples from the authors noted. 

Written with a college freshman (or senior in high school) in mind, the book combines an introduction to the key features of Chinese literature, the names of outstanding writers and movements, and some interesting anecdotes that will leave students amused and curious for more. Grounded in historical and cultural contexts, the book also includes sufficient excerpts that will allow instructors freedom from supplementing the text. It may thus be used as a standalone text in a literature class or a supplementary text in a history course.

A popular Japanese folk tale in which a crane pays back an obligation by becoming human is retold with an unusual ending and with haiku-sprinkled prose.

In this version, Yasuhiro—a young man who lives with Ryota, his embittered, widowed father—carefully frees an enormous crane from a trap pinning its foot to the snow-covered, “sharp buckwheat stubble of the landlord’s field.” As the crane flies away, Yasuhiro heads for home with firewood he has been gathering. Two nights later a beautiful maiden appears at the door, asking for a place to live in exchange for labor. Ryota accepts her offer, warning her that she must work hard and not be lazy or steal. When Ryota’s own attempts to find manual labor dwindle, the maiden, who calls herself Hiroko, offers to weave silk for him to sell, with the caveat that neither he nor Yasuhiro open the door of the weaving room while she is inside. The polished, full-color illustrations, strongly reminiscent of art by the fairy-tale illustrator Adrienne Segur, complement the lyrical text. Interspersed, color-coded haiku reveal the characters’ unspoken thoughts, adding an excellent dimension with potential for drama-group presentations. 

In this new additon to the Little Kunoichi series, author and illustrator Sanae Ishida’s beautiful art pairs with a gentle, fun lesson, featuring Little Kunoichi’s buddy, Chibi Samurai.

Inspired by Little Kunoichi’s relationship with her pet ninja bunny, Chibi Samurai sets off to find a companion for himself. He explores many possibilities from Japanese culture--both real and mythical--thinking about how each creature might be as a pet. 

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle In 2001, French-Canadian cartoonist Delisle traveled to North Korea on a work visa to supervise the animation of a children's cartoon show for two months. While there, he got a rare chance to observe firsthand one of the last remaining totalitarian Communist societies. He also got crappy ice cream, a barrage of propaganda and a chance to fly paper airplanes out of his 15th-floor hotel window. Combining a gift for anecdote and an ear for absurd dialogue, Delisle's retelling of his adventures makes a gently humorous counterpoint to the daily news stories about the axis of evil, a Lost in Translation for the Communist world. Delisle shifts between accounts of his work as an animator and life as a visitor in a country where all foreigners take up only two floors of a 50-story hotel. Delisle's simple but expressive art works well with his account, humanizing the few North Koreans he gets to know (including "Comrade Guide" and "Comrade Translator"), and facilitating digressions into North Korean history and various bizarre happenings involving brandy and bear cubs. Pyongyang will appeal to multiple audiences: current events buffs, Persepolis fans and those who just love a good yarn. (Sept.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information

Sunflower is an only child, and when her father is sent to the rural Cadre School at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, she has to go with him. Her father is an established artist from the city and finds his new life of physical labor and endless meetings exhausting. Sunflower is lonely and longs to play with the local children in the village across the river. When her father tragically drowns, Sunflower is taken in by the poorest family in the village, a family with a son named Bronze. Until Sunflower joins his family, Bronze was an only child, too, and hasn’t spoken a word since he was traumatized by a terrible fire. Bronze and Sunflower become inseparable, understanding each other as only the closest friends can. Translated from Mandarin, the story meanders gracefully through the challenges that face the family, creating a timeless story of the trials of poverty and the power of love and loyalty to overcome hardship.
A beautifully written, timeless tale by Cao Wenxuan, best-selling Chinese author and 2016 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award

The Good EarthThe Good Earth  paints an indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperoro reigned and the vast political and social upheavels of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings.  Nick Bertozzi brings Buck's timeles, epic novel to life with incredible imagery and sensitivity.