Sunday, January 22, 2006

Diary of Ma Yan

Ma, Yan. 2005. THE DIARY OF MA YAN. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 006076497X [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

In May 2001, a French journalist visited a small village in China, Zhangjiashu, where he met a woman who handed him a precious bundle: three notebooks containing an impassioned plea from a child to her mother. Translated into French, the journalist learns the plight of the thirteen-year-old girl, Ma Yan, who longs so much for an education, yet fears that poverty and drought will prevent her from ever returning to school. THE DIARY OF MA YAN: THE STRUGGLES AND HOPES OF A CHINESE SCHOOL GIRL shares those diary entries with the world along with narration by Pierre Haski. Diary entries, written between 2000 and 2001, reveal with clarity and sincerity what it’s like to live in a poverty and a drought-stricken region of China where all—young and old—literally must work hard for every bite of food and every bit of money. While Ma Yan’s plight is not unique since many Chinese children live in poverty, this publication is unique. Its straightforward presentation of a world so different from the U.S. will open readers’ eyes and expand their perspectives. Since the publication of THE DIARY OF MA YAN first into French and now into English, a French non-governmental organization has been formed to help poverty-stricken Chinese children—particularly girls—continue their education by providing scholarships and materials.

Have readers learn more about The Association for the Children of Ningxia by exploring the English version of their website: For example, one term of primary school costs $12, one term of middle school costs $60, and one term of high school costs $85.

Other books set in China:
Chun Yu. LITTLE GREEN. ISBN 0689869436
Napoli, Donna Jo. BOUND. ISBN 0689861753
Whelan, Gloria. CHU JU’S HOUSE. ISBN 0060507241
Yep, Laurence. SPRING PEARL. ISBN 1584855193

By Becky Laney

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