Winner of the 2005 BolognaRagazzi Award.
When Mao's Cultural Revolution took hold in China in June 1966, Ange Zhang was thirteen years old. His father was a famous writer. Shortly after the revolution began, many of Ange's classmates joined the Red Guard, Mao's youth movement, and they drove their teachers out of the classrooms.
But in the weeks that followed Ange discovered that his father's fame as a writer now meant that he was a target of the new regime. When his father was arrested, he began to question everything that was happening in his country. Finally, Ange was forced to join many other young urban Chinese students in the countryside for re-education where he found the emotional space to develop his own artistic talent and to find that he, like his father, was an artist -- except that Ange's talent lay in painting and drawing.
This dramatic, painful autobiographical story is complemented by photographs, many drawn from Ange's personal collection, as well as non-fiction section that explains the historical period and is also illustrated with archival images.
Gr. 5-8. In a straightforward, unemotional manner, this autobiography tells of a teenager's coming-of-age during China's Cultural Revolution. Thirteen years old in 1966, Ange takes pride in his father's standing as a writer and Red Army officer until the Red Guards suddenly denounce his father as a counter-revolutionary. Wanting desperately to belong, Ange joins a Red Guard group. But a violent encounter opens his mind to questions, and reading forbidden books by Western authors opens his thoughts. Sent to a farm in 1968, Ange works hard in the fields, continues to read, and rediscovers his love of art. The book ends with a brief epilogue on later events in his life and an excellent, seven-page section entitled "China's Cultural Revolution."On nearly every page, Zhang's distinctive artwork opens a window into his past. At times painterly, at times reminiscent of silk-screened posters, his computer-assisted illustrations are beautifully composed and often dramatic. The book also includes reproductions of period posters, artifacts, and black-and-white photos. Reminiscent of A Little Tiger in the Chinese Night: An Autobiography in Art (1993) by Song Nan Zhang, a fellow Chinese-Canadian artist, this handsome book provides a memorable introduction to the Cultural Revolution.