Cao, Wenxuan. Bronze and Sunflower. Fiction. Translated from the Chinese by Helen Wang. Candlewick, 03/2017. 386pp. $16.99. 978-0-7636-8816-5. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 2-5.
In China during the Cultural Revolution, an artist has been sent to the countryside and is accompanied by his five-year-old daughter, Sunflower. When the father suddenly dies, Sunflower is taken in by a poor but loving family in the nearby village, and Bronze, the family’s mute son, becomes her big brother. The cinematic descriptions of the vast Chinese countryside, such as the scene in which Sunflower’s father encounters an endless field of giant sunflowers, or the day in which a cloud of locusts descends upon the village, linger as mental images long after the last page has been turned. Bronze cannot speak of his devotion to his sister, but instead shows it through his many acts of kindness and ingenuity, such as the time he makes a beautiful necklace out of icicles for Sunflower to wear at a school assembly. Through freezing winters, starvation, and the unfairness of life that finally leads to their separation, Bronze and Sunflower are a memorable picture of enduring love in a rural Chinese family.
Ann Hotta, Berkeley Public Library