Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book Review
After CC is kicked out for calling her father's mistress a slut, she is taken in by a kung fu academy and trained to secretly fight against the occupying Japanese. The book, set in 1940s Shanghai, has all the ingredients for an unusual wartime thriller but nothing comes together. The plot is jerky, and CC's narration is peppered with far too many exclamation points. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.