On Our Shelves Now
A beautifully written, timeless tale by Cao Wenxuan, best-selling Chinese author and 2016 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.
Sunflower is an only child, and when her father is sent to the rural Cadre School, 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.
About the Author
Cao Wenxuan is one of China’s most esteemed children’s book writers and has won several of China’s important awards for children’s literature. Bronze and Sunflower is his first full-length book to be translated into and published in English. A professor of Chinese literature at Peking University, Cao Wenxuan has seen many of his books become bestsellers in China, and his work has been translated into French, Russian, Japanese, and Korean.
Helen Wang studied Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and is now a curator at the British Museum. She has been a translator for more than twenty years. She lives in London.
To read [Bronze and Sunflower’s] adventures is to be embedded in the Chinese countryside — for good and bad. The daily circumstances of their lives may be different from those of American children, but the emotions and relationships are universal.
—The New York Times Book Review
In Wang's translation of his leisurely, languid prose, Hans Christian Andersen winner Cao captures both the infinite joys and harsh realities of rural farming life...While seemingly idealized, the story and its protagonists reflect the Confucian values of filial piety and society above self—the very foundation of Chinese culture. Readers of all ages should be prepared to laugh, cry, and sigh with satisfaction.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Hans Christian Andersen Award–winner Wenxuan’s moving story of a friendship between two lonely Chinese children, orphaned Sunflower and mute Bronze, bears all the elements of a classic: an inviting and solidly constructed setting, a close-knit family, and a kindhearted community (there’s even a pet buffalo).
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Virtuous and kind, Bronze and Sunflower’s family reflects important cultural values including filial piety, respect for elders, the value of hard work and education, and the importance of saving face. This not-to-be-missed story reminds us to be thankful for family and love, no matter our station in life. Helpful back matter provides additional insight into this specific time in China's history.
—Booklist (starred review)
Capturing a distinct time and place as well as moments of bittersweet universality, this vivid and accessible novel for 9- to 12-year-olds would make for a superb family read-aloud.
—The Wall Street Journal
The landscape, captured in lyrical, evocative prose, takes the leading role in this episodic novel set during China’s Cultural Revolution...This beautifully written depiction of a time and place not often seen in children’s literature makes for a strong purchase.
—School Library Journal
Told in spare yet glimmering prose, this story is a testament to all that love and loyalty are able to overcome... In a time when our divisions seem to be drawn more forcefully than ever, Bronze and Sunflower’s unlikely bond serves as a beacon of hope.
The details about rural Chinese life are a revelation...Cao shows English-speaking readers a foreign world where time is measured in the seasonal comings and goings of the swallows, but also a familiar one where the fabric of family is woven from shared hopes and unexpected acts of kindness.
—Shelf Awareness Pro
The author does not shy away from heartbreaking events such as famine, storm devastation, and the loss of loved ones, resulting in a moving and at times shockingly honest account...Translator Wang manages successfully the difficult tasks of maintaining the stylistic integrity of the original text and achieving a high level of readability in her translation.
—The Horn Book
These beautiful moments of love abounding in the midst of hardship and poverty are timeless and will appeal to all readers.
—School Library Connection
Two lonely children, scarred by tragedy, form an inseparable bond in this lovely novel from a beloved Chinese author set in the Chinese countryside during the Cultural Revolution.
The constant hardships of rural poverty are balanced by selflessness, love and the beauty of nature. The story's ending is both heartbreaking and transcendent, reminiscent of the best fairy tales.
Ideal for bookclubs, this is one of the finest translations I’ve ever encountered and undeniably the best Chinese middle grade novel I’ve ever read.
—A Fuse #8 Production (blog)