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Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party Paperback – September 29, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312581491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312581497
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Picture book and cookbook author Compestine (The Real Story of Stone Soup) turns to 1972 China as the setting for her first YA novel. Eight-year-old Ling, the spunky daughter of two doctors, lives in Wuhan, China; dreamy and idealistic, she often describes her world in metaphor (about her neighbor, Ling notes, Mrs. Wong was fragrant and warm like a red peony, which always welcomed visitors). But the lives of Ling and her family are disrupted when Comrade Li, an officer of the Communist Party, moves into their apartment. Difficulties mount as friends and neighbors disappear, Ling's father is arrested and she endures vicious tormenting at school because of her bourgeois background (At times I wished my family was poor and my parents worked on a vegetable farm... so I could have friends. But if my parents worked on a farm, who would treat their patients?). Although her father has been jailed, her family starved and their books burned, Ling fights to keep her long hair, a symbol of dignity and individualism to her, though her classmates see it as emblematic of Ling's privilege. Ling survives on wit, hope and courage until the death of Chairman Mao, after which she and her mother have a joyful reunion with Ling's father. Readers should remain rapt by Compestine's storytelling throughout this gripping account of life during China's Cultural Revolution. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Known for her picture books, Compestine grew up in China, during the Cultural Revolution, and her autobiographical novel tells the history from the viewpoint of the young, protected, privileged child who loses her innocence when political brutality invades her home. For nine-year-old Ling, things always seem clear. She's close to her loving father, who teaches her English and about freedom in America, but she feels distant from her tense, angry mother. During the course of four years, repression increases, and eventually the Red Guards arrest Dad as a class enemy. Ling feels the repression in other ways, too; she stands up to class bullies who try to cut off her "bourgeois" hair. Always she is sustained by memories of her brave father and his dream of freedom. 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. Rochman, Hazel --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Award-Winning Author and Inspirational Public Speaker, Ying is the versatile and prolific author of picture books, novels for young readers, and cookbooks. Named one of "50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading" by the Author's Show, Ying has 19 books to her name. Frequently sought after by the media, she has been featured on numerous national television programs, and is regularly profiled in prestigious news media, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post.

Ying frequently visits schools throughout the US and abroad, sharing with students her journey as a writer, how her life in China inspired her writing, and the challenges of writing in her second language. Her newest book, co-authored with her son, Secrets of a Terra-Cotta Soldier, is due out this fall. Her new cookbook, Cooking with an Asian Accent, is due out next spring.

Ying was born and raised in Wuhan, China. Her highly acclaimed novel about her life growing up in China during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party, has received over 33 national awards. Her website is www.yingc.com.

Customer Reviews

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Reading this book made me feel like I was actually living through the events.
Janet Ann Collins
I feel like this perspective is important for students because they can see how the events that unfold are wrong through an innocent child's eyes.
OpheliasOwn
Ying Chang Compestine's Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party is an enthralling novel that young readers, boys and girls alike, will find a good read.
Whitlock84

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 63 people found the following review helpful By V. ZHANG on January 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was excited to hear that another book about the Cultural Revolution was published. I always believe there should be more books about this period of history which should never be forgotten. But I was so disappointed after reading it.
This is a historical novel, but the author manipulated the fact to serve her purpose to make a melodramatic story, and totally ignored the accuracy of the year, the political condition and how Chinese would react at that time. Here are some clarifications.
The Cultural Revolution started in 1966 and the first few years was the most turmoil. It was common for ransacking people's home, having struggle meeting to condemn the class enemies. But after the first three years, the situation was much calmer. So the many things the author described were almost impossible to happen after 1972, such as, the teacher disappeared, doctors committed suicide, people got arrested, a public meeting held to humiliate the main character after Mao's death, etc. If there were only one or two mistakes, I could understand. But the inaccuracy was consistently throughout the book. Because the book was about an important piece of Chinese history, the accuracy of the political situation should be the essence of such a book.
Since I lived through the Cultural Revolution, I found the characters were not authentic. Eg: Mother wore a pearl necklace in 1972 (no one dare wear jewelry then); Father listened to Voice of America pretty openly which was a dead crime; educated people often drank coffee on the street in a western pastry; "I" longed to come to America and told Father "I love you," and even trying to whip a Red Guard with a metal belt in public...... All of these sound inauthentic.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Book Lady Review on November 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Revolution is not a dinner party, . . . A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another." - Mao Zedong.

Ying Chang Compestine's title of her first novel is nothing short of brilliant irony. Ms. Compestine, like her protagonist, Ling, survived Mao's Cultural Revolution (a time marked by constant hunger) to become the author of three cookbooks and a recognized authority on Chinese cooking and culture.

It's hard to pick a place to begin in recommending this book. First of all, it is a "cross-over" novel, which, in the trade, means a book for both young adults (10 yrs. and up) and general readership. I cannot think of a better book to be read by everyone in any family.

China, and all things Chinese, is a big part of our lives and will be an even larger part of our children's lives. This novel is as fine a start as any to better understand China's recent past.

The year is 1972 when the story begins and it ends shortly after Mao's death in 1976. Ling is almost nine years old in 1972, and it is through her eyes that we experience her fear and terror when, "Danger began knocking on doors all over China."

Ling is a bright and vivacious only child. She is the great joy of an easy-going father and the consternation of a perfectionist mother. The family lives in a hospital compound where her father practices Western surgery and her mother practices traditional Chinese medicine. The tie-in to our California Bay Area is a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge given to her father by his teacher, a visiting American doctor. It is her father's hope that some day Ling will travel to America and see the Golden Gate Bridge.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Book Mom on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
When two of my four children stop swimming in the ocean during vacation to sit and read a book cover to cover in a day, that's my idea of a well written novel. I, too, read this captivating fictional account of a young girl's experience through the Cultural Revolution. Having read many adult and children's books about China during this time period, I found this novel to be an incredible portrayal of events through a young girl's eyes. I would recommend this novel for the whole family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gerry Tatham on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When a tyrannical government thrusts millions of its citizens into social chaos for over a decade, outsiders tend to dismiss their suffering as "unfortunate." When one little girl personalizes the horror inflicted on herself and family, indifference is no longer possible.

The explosive effect of Ying Chang Compestine's Revolution is not a Dinner Party comes close to nuclear in its effect on her reader. The sheer barbarity of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution bullies its way into the reader's psyche as surely as Chairman Mao himself unleashed his bullying thugs on all things civilized. The plight of a loving, family-centered child becomes the plight of all helpless people suffering a topsy-turvey distortion of the intellectual, moral, personal values that make life meaningful.

Gerry Tatham
Retired Professor of Literature
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party" is a wonderful story that relates to Chinese history during the time period of the Cultural Revolution. The story is exciting and has many twists and turns that grab the reader's attention. When I read this book, I did not want to put it down. "Revolution is Not a Dinner Party" is written so vividly and with so much care that this is one of my favorite books that I have ever read. Ying Chang Compestine is a fantastic author. I love this book and I recommend it to anyone ages 9 and up.
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