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The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl

by Pierre Haski
Translated by Lisa Appignanesi, from the French


Published by U.S. edition: HarperCollins, 2005
166 pages
ISBN: 0060764961

Ages 9-14

A French journalist originally helped publish the diary of Ma Yan, a fourteen-year-old Chinese girl who struggled to stay in school and receive an education under grueling circumstances. Ma Yan is the first in her family to have a real chance at getting out of the poverty and backbreaking work that has beaten down her family for generations. Her parents go to great lengths to be able to afford to keep her in school, and she lives in constant fear of failing and dishonoring her parents’ sacrifice. Her insight is incredibly astute, her gratitude and love for her parents is powerful. Along with the typical stress of being a student in a rigorous school, Ma Yan also must deal with the guilt that she is not contributing money to the family, and almost constant hunger and cold. American readers will be shocked at how much thinking Ma Yan had to do on so few calories! Photographs of Ma Yan, her family, and the rural Chinese community in which she lives are included in this important volume. Since it’s original pubulication in a French newspaper, funds have been raised to help children like Ma Yan stay well-fed and clothed and in school. Ma Yan writes in a letter to her French supporters that “I really understand what joy in this world means: friendship. . . You said that you could help other children from families in need. . . Let them too complete their schooling and fulfill their dreams. All my thanks.” CCBC Category: Contemporary People, Places, and Events. 2005, Edited and introduced by Pierre Haski. Translated from the French by Lisa Appignanesi. Originally translated from the Mandarin by He Yanping.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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