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The Five Chinese Brothers (Paperstar) Paperback – June 18, 1996


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Series: Paperstar
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reissue edition (June 18, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0698113578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0698113572
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 8.8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The beloved story of five brothers who use their special powers to rescue the First Brother from being unfairly put to death. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I read this book as a child in the 50's & it was one of my favorites.
Hulababy
It can be a dangerous world, and I learned that no matter how dire the circumstances, through ingenuity, love, courage and community we can prevail.
Barak
I would recommend this book to read as a bedtime story to your children.
judyredcoat

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

240 of 254 people found the following review helpful By L. A. Adolf on June 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This charming book has taken a lot of heat in recent years for not being politically correct enough to suit modern sensibilites. The author and artist have been accused of non-PC conduct, the most famous charge being the representation of all Chinese as looking alike through out the book.
I remember reading this book as a young child back in the 60s and being entranced by its clever story of five look-alike brothers with supernatural powers who save their own from an unjust punishment. I've thought of this book many times over my 45 years, remembering it with a fondness and awe unmatched by many other books--children's or no, that I have read. I have only recently revisited this fondly remembered favorite, all too mindful of the criticisms launched against it, paying close attention to the text and art.
The book, originally written in 1938, deserves to be judged not by our modern sensibilities, but for where the world was at the time it was written. Keeping that in mind, the book becomes less the poster child for racism than a respectful retelling of an old Chinese folktale. Careful study of the artwork will reveal that aside from the identical brothers (and their resemblance to each other IS an unassailable plot point from the original folk story)
there is as much effort placed into creating depictions of peripheral characters as there generally is in any children's book. The pen and watercolor wash drawings are simplified as one would expect for the age group that is the target audience, but each person rendered is an individual in facial expression, hair style and dress. Complaining of the sameness of all Chinese depicted becomes mystifying--as aside from similar dress and skin tone used the charge proves to be specious.
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103 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Jann on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a child this was one of my favorite tales. I am of asian descent and I was never offended by the images. I didn't find it scary, just fascinating. It was a tale that really let the imagination soar. People should be racially sensitive but not paranoid. In this era of cultural diversity, we should be able to see the humor. The caricatures are innocent not disrespectful. I feel bad for children whose parents feel the need to censor this from them. It is a fun, timeless story I plan to share with my children.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was in first grade in 1974, it was the first time our class went to the library. The librarian discussed with us some books she had picked out and one was, The five chinese brothers. By the time she had finished describing the book I knew what book I wanted to check out. And when she gave the permission to look around, I ran for that book, and I read it, read it, and am getting to read it again 24 years later. I dont exactly know how, but I feel somehow that book helped me be..who I am, because I never forgot that memory.
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59 of 70 people found the following review helpful By hoola boola on October 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
I loved this book as a kid. And when I bought a copy for my nephew, I was disappointed to see this book was edited to exclude a few of the brothers' exploits. What a shame that people have become so afraid of our history that they try to censor and warp it into something insipid and "safe". At five, I saw nothing wrong with this book. I thought the brothers' powers were way cool. It taught me the meaning of a family's strength when faced with trying times. That in turn, made me proud of my own family's bond. At 41, my feelings about this book remain unchanged.

The fact that the publishing company felt they had to edit this ancient story is atrocious. It proves their own fears and prejudices. I don't see any racial stereotypes here people. This story is over a hundred years old and finally brought to paper in the 60's I believe. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that's how people dressed back then. By "protecting" our children from any minute sign of what's not deemed politically correct, we've turned ourselves into a nation of cowards... afraid of our own shadows.

Shame on Paperstar for editing this wonderful story.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on September 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
There is something about the magical that deeply appeals to children. That's why fairy tales are so beloved by them. Even folk tales, a more realistic spin-off of fairy tales, are also favorites of children.

No exception is "The Five Chinese Brothers," written by Claire Hucket Bishop and illustrated by Kurt Wiese. This 1938 publication is still in print, testifying to its popularity. The call of political incorrectness just does not apply here. These five brothers are identical, not because all Chinese people look alike, but because they are quintuplets. Does the story say so? No, but it only figures...

These five brothers--each has a unique gift, each strange, but nevertheless, their gifts are what this story is about. The first brother can swallow the sea, the second has an iron neck, the third can stretch his legs indefinitely, the fourth cannot be burned, and the fifth can hold his breath indefinitely.

So the first takes a child fishing and uses his sea-holding ability so that the child can pick seashells and the like normally hidden under the water. Sad, but the little boy is headstrong and won't return to shore, the brother lets out the sea, and the boy disappears. The brother is going to be executed by axe. He asks to go say goodbye to his mother and switches with his second brother whose neck cannot be hurt.

And so on with each brother who is to be punished by death. Finally, after the fifth try, the judge sets him free. He returns home and lives happily with his brothers and mother.

Children love this book because it strikes their fancy: wild abilities, escape from punishment, astonishment of the town folk, and freedom.

I can see that.
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