Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party by Ying Chang CompestineRevolution Is Not A Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine

Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party

byYing Chang Compestine

Paperback | September 29, 2009

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The summer of 1972, before I turned nine, danger began knocking on doors all over China.

Nine-year-old Ling has a very happy life. Her parents are both dedicated surgeons at the best hospital in Wuhan, and her father teaches her English as they listen to Voice of America every evening on the radio. But when one of Mao's political officers moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. In an atmosphere of increasing mistrust and hatred, Ling fears for the safety of her neighbors, and soon, for herself and her family. For the next four years, Ling will suffer more horrors than many people face in a lifetime. Will she be able to grow and blossom under the oppressive rule of Chairman Mao? Or will fighting to survive destroy her spirit-and end her life?

Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Ying Chang Compestine grew up in China and now lives in California with her husband and son. She is the author of the young adult story collection A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, as well as several picture books for children and cookbooks for adults.
Title:Revolution Is Not A Dinner PartyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 7.68 × 5.16 × 0.72 inPublished:September 29, 2009Publisher:Square FishLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312581491

ISBN - 13:9780312581497

Appropriate for ages: 9 - 12


Read from the Book

Mother picked up a stack of old newspapers from beside the stove. Carefully, she checked every page before laying it around a stool, setting two sheets with Chairman Mao’s pictures on the counter. Months earlier, a nurse had been sent to prison as an anti-Maoist just because she lit her stove with a newspaper page with Mao’s photo.     I noticed a cloth rice sack in the corner next to some herbal medicine bottles and folded clothes. “Why are you packing, Mom?”     Without answering me, she led me to the stool and raked her hard-toothed comb through my hair.     As each stroke yanked at my scalp, pain shot through my mosquito-chewed body. I clenched my teeth, not wanting to cry out. Were we going to a labor camp?     Before knowing that they kept Father in the jail nearby, I had wished they would send us to his camp, wherever it was. Now I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be here in case they ever brought him back to the hospital.     Something cold drizzled through my hair. Within a second, my scalp burned. “I hope this will kill the lice,” Mother whispered. Her ox-bone comb scraped against my raw scalp.     I couldn’t bear any more of the pain and the itching.     “You are hurting me!” I shouted.      Mother stopped.      Stiffening my back, I waited for her to scold me for raising my voice and showing disrespect.      A moment later, she whispered, “Ling, your hair is too thick. The coal oil can’t kill all the lice.” She put down her comb and left the room.      Didn’t she hear me shouting? What was she planning to do now?     Mother returned with a pair of scissors and Father’s razor. “We have to shave your head.”     I jumped off the chair. “No! There must be another way!”     She took a step back. “I don’t know what else to do, Ling. I used up this month’s ration. I even emptied the lamp. If I don’t cut your hair, the lice will spread throughout the apartment.” She tilted the blue oil cup, showing me it was empty. We received two cups of coal oil each month. Without the oil, we’d have to live in the dark for the rest of the month. Now I hated myself for being caught and for falling asleep on the dirty mattress.      Seeing sadness in her eyes, I knew she wouldn’t cut my hair if she could find another way. As far back as I could remember, she had told me that ladies should let their hair grow.     “Do what you must!” I was shaking, trying to hold my despair inside, as I threw myself back into the chair. I didn’t care about being a lady. I wanted to be a mean dragon. More than anything, I wanted to stop the pain and itching. I thought of Chairman Mao’s wife Jiang Qing’s ugly short hair.

Editorial Reviews

"* Readers should remain rapt by Compestine's storytelling throughout this gripping account of life during China's Cultural Revolution." -Publishers Weekly, Starred Review"Laced in all the right places with humor, fury, fear, resolve and eventual relief, her childlike voice is carefully maintained over the sweep of four years--candid and credible, naive and nuanced." -San Francisco Chronicle"This child's-eye view of the Chinese Cultural Revolution is ultimately a tale of survival; lyrical yet gripping, accessible and memorable, it's based on the author's experiences. Certain to inspire discussion about freedom and justice." -Kirkus Reviews"Authentic. . . . This semi-autobiographical novel comes alive with the author's rich descriptions of the sights and smells of China at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution." -School Library Journal"In clipped lyrical sentences, Compestine's first-person narrative sets a naïve child's struggle to survive against betrayal and courage in one neighborhood and also the political panorama of spies and slogans." -Booklist"Compestine does a good job giving young YA readers a realistic picture of what that period of history meant to individuals caught in the political nightmare. Certainly those with a Chinese heritage will find the story important to understand their own family history." -KLIATT"Beautifully descriptive phrases allow this autobiographical fiction to come alive with the colors of the clothing that are lovingly sewn for Ling, the aromatic preparations of the food that is cooked, and the genuine appreciation of school, work, and valued neighbors. . . . The simple narrative is [refreshing] . . . in its youthful disbelief of the hardships that have befallen them in a changing political situation." -Voice of Youth Advocates