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Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society


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About the Author

Adeline Yen Mah was born in Tianjin, studied medicine in London, and now divides her time between London and California. She is the author of the worldwide bestsellers, Falling Leaves, Chinese Cinderella (based on her extraordinary childhood and difficult family circumstances), Watching the Tree and A Thousand Pieces of Gold. Her unique perspectives create a window into Chinese culture for Western readers.


After writing two memoirs about her childhood in China, suffering abuse from a cruel stepmother, Mah (Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter) writes an equally riveting novel set in 1942, featuring a young heroine from Shanghai with a background similar to her own. Unlike the author, however, 12-year-old narrator CC manages to escape her painful home life with a neglectful father and his tyrannical girlfriend by running away. She joins the secret Dragon Society, an academy devoted to "helping those who have suffered unjustly and have nobody to turn to." Under the guidance of kind "Grandma" Wu, a woman filled with pearls of wisdom, CC learns martial arts as well as the philosophy of kung fu. She also develops a strong camaraderie with three boys-also unwanted or orphaned children-who live at the academy. As Japan's occupation of China becomes increasingly treacherous, the Dragon Society prepares for a dangerous mission to save a group of American pilots from being captured by Japanese soldiers. For the first time since joining the academy, CC's courage and quick-wittedness are tested. This gripping tale based on a true event meshes action and suspense with Eastern philosophy to create a provocative and educational read. CC emerges as a noble, compassionate heroine who finds a path to happiness by helping others. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

an exciting and empowering adventure story.' MagpiesVol 19, No 4, Sept 2004An absorbing and exciting adventure, rich in detail and atmosphere.' Readings GuideAug 2004a rich and fascinating read.'Ruth Jones, Larapinta Primary Schoola truly amazing book a story with an ingredient that is rare: the pure sensation of not being able to put a book down.' Angela, aged 13, Canberra, ACTThis book is one of the best I have ever read.'Emma Warwick, Year 9, UCSC

Gr 5-8-In this work of historical make-believe set during World War II, 12-year-old CC's father throws her out of the house after she has a bitter argument with her stepmother, a woman familiar to readers of Mah's Chinese Cinderella (Delacorte, 1999). Fortunately she is taken in by a resourceful woman known as Grandma Wu, an operative of the Secret Dragon Society. At Grandma Wu's she meets three boys of mixed backgrounds and of different religions, and together they learn many useful skills-kung fu and cooking among them. Soon she becomes a full-fledged member of the society, a lifelong commitment made just in time. Japan has occupied Shanghai and is at war with the United States. When the Americans plan a bombing raid on Japan, the children are instrumental in passing vital information to them. They rescue some downed pilots and later plan a daring prison escape. Full of adventure and contrivance, this somewhat old-fashioned, plot-driven novel is clear about the values that are important to the author. When one of the rescued pilots declares his intent to become a missionary and convert the Japanese to Christianity, for example, the children engage him in a thoughtful discussion about the universality of people's belief systems and their right to believe as they wish. These young people are courageous, creative, and open-minded. They often chant, "We are here to make a difference. We are children of destiny." Is there any doubt that these characters will be back with more daring adventures?-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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