17 July, 2016

Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan

Although most children’s stories leave you laughing at all the funny antics and adventures your protagonist gets up to, there are those few that move you to tears from beginning to end. Bronze and Sunflower, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang, is one book that had me constantly reaching for the tissue box.

Bronze is a poor boy in a small village in rural China. He has not spoken a word since a terrible fire swept through his village when he was small. Although he is often alone, he is content with his life. Sunflower has moved to the countryside with her father and grows to love the flowing river, the friendly water-buffalo and the vast blue sky above. It is by the reed marsh that she meets Bronze, the boy who doesn’t speak and an unlikely friendship blossoms. Tragedy strikes when they least expect it and Bronze’s family takes in little Sunflower and brings her up as their own daughter. Bronze finds fate has brought him the little sister he had always wanted. Despite the hardship and poverty the family live in, they do their best for little Sunflower, giving her a future filled with happiness and laughter.

Told in the third person, this English PEN Award Winner; captivated me and transported me through the years to the era of the Cultural Revolution in China when this lovely story was set. With each chapter we meet the cast of characters that make up the little village of Damaidi, witness how they battle the hardships of life in the countryside and go about their lives. Although quite funny in some chapters, this moving and poignant story had me reading it well into the night.

I love how Bronze and Sunflower portrayed a significant period of Chinese history with this lovely story of childhood innocence.

Also available as an ebook.

Title: Bronze and Sunflower
Author: Cao Wenxuan

Recommended by Surani R, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson. 

Surani R enjoys reading biographies, travelogues, some non-fiction, and loves fiction that makes you laugh out loud. She also finds comfort in children’s fiction with thought-provoking stories. 

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