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The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang (American Girl (Paperback Unnumbered)) Paperback – July 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 570L (What's this?)
  • Series: American Girl (Paperback Unnumbered)
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: American Girl; First Edition edition (July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584852038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584852032
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 4.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,186,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When her family moves to Seattle, Wash., from a village in southern China, 12-year-old Jinna must overcome her extreme shyness and learn to speak English. She wants desperately to prove she's as smart as everyone else is, but finds herself unable to will the words out of her mouth. Focusing almost entirely on Jinna's struggles in school, Yang's first novel conveys some of the unique challenges of the immigrant experience. The author offers phonetic pronunciations of what Jinna hears when people talk to her (e.g., "I am Ms. Linden" becomes "Ai-em-iz-lin-dun," which Jinna takes to mean "chest" since that is where Ms. Linden is pointing) and integrates some colorful analogies (when Jinna can't speak, she compares herself to the cormorants in China that wear metal bands around their necks to prevent them from swallowing the fish they catch). However, the author sheds little light on her family's adjustment outside of Jinna's school troubles; in her parents' eagerness for Jinna to fit in, they come off as unsympathetic to her difficulties. When her father finally explains that he understands Jinna more than he let on, it seems like too little, too late. Still, the novel's charms outweigh its flaws; Jinna is a clever and brave heroine who will leave readers cheering. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6-On Jinna's first day of school in this country, she is nervous and confused. Her parents expect her to learn English quickly, but when she is asked to repeat a word in her ESL class, she finds she cannot speak at all, not even in Chinese. The problem grows worse and worse, until Jinna's inability to talk leads her fifth-grade classmates and teachers to believe she is slow or just trying to get attention. Only at home, while inventing the story of Princess Jade-Blossom, which she acts out with characters made of yarn, can Jinna find the courage to speak English. But this is her own secret world, one that she doesn't want to share with anyone, not even Priscilla, the lonely outcast who gradually becomes her friend. Priscilla helps Jinna find the courage to speak in her own way, to prove that even though she finds it hard to talk, she is learning; and that she, too, is brave, clever, and noble, like the princess in her imagination. Wonderfully crafted, with believable and sympathetic characters, Gina Zhang draws readers into Jinna's world of fear and frustration. Princess Jade-Blossom's adventures in the Land of Far Away are interwoven throughout Jinna's own story, paralleling the challenges she faces in her new life in Seattle. This moving and absorbing novel conveys the terrors of having to adapt to a new school and a new language.
Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Dori Jones Yang is a writer who aims to build bridges between cultures and between generations. Author of a wide variety of books for different audiences, she loves to explore exotic locales, celebrate strong women, and make history come alive. Her new passion is to encourage people to seek wisdom by interviewing others for a "wisdom project." More at www.booksbydori.com.

For her newest book, Warm Cup of Wisdom: Inspirational Insights on Relationships and Life, she interviewed nine wise women and asked twenty thought-provoking questions about happiness, tough times, midlife transitions, aging, raising adult children, and seeking inspiration.

Daughter of Xanadu, published by Random House/Delacorte Press in 2011, is a historical novel about a daring 16-year-old named Emmajin, imaginary granddaughter of Khubilai Khan. Emmajin wants to join the Mongol Army and become a legend on the battlefield; her plans get complicated when she meets a charming foreigner from a distant land - named Marco Polo.

Son of Venice, A Story of Marco Polo, is the sequel to Daughter of Xanadu, and takes up the story of Emmajin and Marco as they travel west along the Silk Road. They face battles, intrigue, betrayal and challenges to their unconventional love.

The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang, an award-winning book for readers age 10 and up, tells of a girl who moved from China to Seattle and lost her voice. The book's message is about what a joy it can be to reach out to classmates who have trouble speaking English.

Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time tells the remarkable tale of how Starbucks grew from a tiny coffee shop in Seattle to a worldwide phenomenon. Co-authored with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, it is accessible and engaging for both business experts and general readers.

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, and educated at Princeton and Johns Hopkins, Dori worked many years as a journalist for Business Week and U.S. News & World Report. She speaks Mandarin Chinese and has traveled widely in Asia.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang is a sensitive tale of a young girl struggling to reconcile two cultures. Having recently moved to the U.S. from China, Gina is faced with starting a new school and learning a new language. We share the fear and embarrassment of the first days in her ESL class where she knows no one and understands nothing. Gradually, Gina finds a friend, and learns enough English to understand her new culture. This book deals with the subjects of loneliness, chilhood friendship, and changing cultures in a compelling, thoughtful way. As a Middle School librarian, I would suggest this book to 5th, 6th, or 7th grade teachers to recommend to their students.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a remarkably informative novel, full of inspiration and help to the thousands of children who have moved to the USA in the last decade. Dear Abby had a good example in her column Nov. 1 on how a wonderful teacher dealt with a bewildered non English speaking student by gaining the child's confidence which led to the little girls happiness and success in becoming a good student by learning English through a loving and caring teacher. Girls will love this book because of good story telling and uthe author's use of imagination and fantasy to reach a happy ending.It's good guess work for the student reading the book to try to figure out how the story will end. Submitted by Letitia Sherman of La Jolla, Ca. USA
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang is a story about a 12 year old girl who travels from China to live in America. She does not know a single word in English. It was interesting because it makes you want to know how in the world Gina is going to speak English. I was glad when Gina met a friend, Priscilla, and life became easier for her beacuse she learnt a lot ofEnglish words from her. I think this is a good book because it makes me think that I can help kids from other countries in my school.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book because it was about a girl "Gina" who came to America not knowing any English. At school she could not talk at all in Chinese or English. Gina has a great imagination and she doesn't want anybody else to know about it. She meets a girl " Priscilla" and they become friends and she helps Gina. The adventure and suspense of what's going to happen next keeps the pages turning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Harper on September 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is very touching. It's about a young girl who's just moved to America and isn't sure if she'll survive or make friends. And that's until she meets Priscilla, a girl who befriends her and they become stuck together like glue. Readers of all ages will enjoy this short, fast-paced book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jaydekitten on June 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
"The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang" is an important book for children and adults alike to read. In America, we have so many cultures living side by side, it's important for us to attempt to understand one another. Dori Jones Yang successfully creates a book that is enjoyable, educational, and inspiring. I feel many people will enjoy this book because they can relate to, in one way or another, the main character Jinna. After moving to Seattle from China, Jinna (Gina as she is dubbed in English), finds herself unable to communicate in school. Not only can she not understand and speak English, but she finds herself unable to speak AT ALL. Soon after, Gina is befriended by another class outcast, Priscilla, and both children are able to overcome their anxieties and issues with the help of each other's friendship. This is an excellent, inspiring book. I hope to read more books by Dori Jones Yang in the future.
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