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Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer Hardcover – 22 Jul 2008

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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children 23 Jan. 2010
By Yana V. Rodgers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
During China's Cultural Revolution, a young boy named Li Cunxin endured extreme hunger, bitter cold, and a tiny bare living space that he shared with six brothers and his parents. They survived while countless others did not. Yet Li dreamed his life would differ from that of the fabled little frog who could not get out of the deep, dark well in which he lived.

An extraordinary and completely unexpected opportunity to live a better life came Li's way when a small delegation visited his school searching for children with potential to become ballet dancers. They chose Li, and at the age of eleven he left his family to study ballet at the Beijing Dance Academy. Although he missed his family terribly, years of rigorous training led him to become one of China's best dancers, which in turn generated an invitation to study ballet in the United States. Li had managed to escape from the dark well, but he did not know for a long time if he would see his family again.

This beautifully-crafted children's book, which Li Cunxin adapted from his adult memoir, offers a gripping portrayal of life during the Cultural Revolution and a moving depiction of his progression to adulthood and fame. To bolster the realism, the illustrator traveled with Li to China to visit his old village and the dance academy, and she trained in traditional Chinese painting techniques. Dancing to Freedom makes a valuable addition to any collection of children's books that rank highly on artistic merit and substantive content.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A truly authentic touch 7 Sept. 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer is a children's picturebook based on the true-life story of author Li Cunxin, who was selected by Chairman Mao's officials to become a dancer. His arduous training allowed him to travel to America and around the world. Even though he was not permitted to see his family, he kept them in his heart and dreams. "One day a wonderful thing happened. I learned that my parents could come from China to see me dance! Could it be true that after all this time I was to see them again?" A final page tells young readers more about the China that Li knew growing up in the 1960s - a very strict place in which the government firmly controlled people's lives and possessions, and a place that has since changed greatly. Illustrator Anne Spudvilas traveled with Li to visit Li's village, family, and friends as well as studying Chinese brush painting to grace Dancing to Freedom with a truly authentic touch. Also highly recommended is the "Young Readers' Edition" of Li's autobiography, "Mao's Last Dancer".
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Dance or Starve 13 Dec. 2008
By Kemie Nix - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Li was one of seven Chinese brothers, sons of a peasant farmer. They were wretchedly poor. They never had enough to eat, but somehow they managed to survive. One day, officials arrived at Li's school looking for students to study something called "ballet." Out of millions of students, Li was chosen. He was ripped away from everything and everybody he knew and loved and sent to the Beijing Dance Academy. Knowing it was his only chance o help himself and his family, he endured. Not only did he become a stellar dancer, "Mao's last dancer," he was chosen to go to Houston in America where he flourished and
became one of the world's greatest dancers. His parents were allowed to travel to the United States to see him dance, the culmination of his years of grueling work.

It's inspiring story is exquisitely illustrated in Chinese ink and watercolor on rice paper. The palette is composed of soft grays and blues, capturing the cold apoverty of his youth. The pictures brighten with his sucesses.The flowing ink lines of his body convey the fluidity of the dance.
A beautiful children's book 19 Sept. 2014
By Beynongirl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do like this book, although it is obviously a children's book. The story is still good and the pictures are beautiful. I believe that it is a true story, but I would like to know if that is correct.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wrong book 27 Jan. 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking for the autobiography, not the children's book. So, I think it's unfair that I have to rate this as a 1, but I can't give it a 5, either. Amazon needs to specify that something is a children's book. I wasted time and money having to return this book.
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