Cover image for Red scarf girl : a memoir of the Cultural Revolution / Ji-li Jiang ; foreword by David Henry Hwang.
Red scarf girl : a memoir of the Cultural Revolution / Ji-li Jiang ; foreword by David Henry Hwang.

Publication Information:
[Bridgewater, NJ] : Distributed by Paw Prints/Baker & Taylor, [2008]
Physical Description:
xvii, 285 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
Reprint. Originally published: New York : HarperCollins, 1997.

Rebound by Paw Prints.
aThe liberation army dancer -- Destroy the Four Olds! -- Writing Da-zi-bao -- The Red successors -- Graduation -- The sound of drums and gongs -- The propaganda wall -- A search in passing -- Fate -- Junior high school at last -- Locked up -- An educable child -- Half-city Jiangs -- The class education exhibition -- The rice harvest -- The incriminating letter -- Sweeping.
An outstanding student and much admired leader of her class, Ji-Li Jiang was poised for a shining future in the Communist party until the Cultural Revolution of 1966. Told with simplicity, innocence and grace, this unforgettable memoir gives a child's eye view of a terrifying time in 20th-century history--and of one family's indomitable courage under fire.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
951.056 JIA Book Junior Collection
951.056 JIA Book Junior Collection
951.056 JIA Book Teen Collection
951.056 JIA Book Junior Collection

On Order



Publishers Weekly Best Book * ALA Best Book for Young Adults * ALA Notable Children's Book * ALA Booklist Editors' Choice

In the tradition of The Diary of Anne Frank and I Am Malala, this is the incredible true story of one girl's courage and determination during one of the most terrifying eras of the twentieth century. This edition includes a detailed glossary, pronunciation guide, discussion questions, and a Q&A with the author.

It's 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, popularity, and a bright future in Communist China. But it's also the year that China's leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution--and Ji-li's world begins to fall apart.

Over the next few years, people who were once her friends and neighbors turn on her and her family, forcing them to live in constant terror of arrest. And when Ji-li's father is finally imprisoned, she faces the most difficult dilemma of her life.

Written in an accessible and engaging style, this page-turning, honest, and deeply personal autobiography will appeal to readers of all ages.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The passionate tone of this memoir, Jiang's first book for children, does not obstruct the author's clarity as she recounts the turmoil during China's Cultural Revolution. It is 1966, and Ji-li, a highly ranked student, exceptional athlete and avid follower of Mao zealously joins her classmates in denouncing the Four Olds: "old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits." Tables are turned, however, when her own family's bourgeois heritage is put under attack. Even when the 12-year-old's dreams of a successful career are dashed (as quickly as her opportunities to attend a prestigious high school and to join youth organizations), and she must watch in horror as relatives, teachers, neighbors and friends are publicly humiliated and tortured, her devotion to ingrained Communist principals remains steadfast ("It was only after Mao's death that I knew I was deceived," she says in the epilogue). Jiang paints a detailed picture of everyday life in Shanghai ("Almost every Sunday afternoon Dad wanted to take a long nap in peace, and so he gave us thirty fen to rent picture books") while slowly adding the dark strokes of political poison that begin to invade it. Her undidactic approach invites a thoughtful analysis of Ji-li's situation and beliefs. She astutely leaves morals and warnings about corruption and political control to be read between the lines. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Younger) A folklike story set in China tells of Mi Fei, an artist who skillfully paints the stories of gods and heroes on paper scrolls while living simply in his village, surrounded by loving neighbors. When alarming news comes that a great dragon has awakened from its hundred-years' sleep and is destroying the countryside, Mi Fei, at the villagers' behest, takes his scrolls and paints and journeys to the dragon's mountain. There, he encounters the fiery breath and lashing tail of the terrifying creature and learns that before the dragon can return to his slumber, someone must perform three tasks, or be devoured. Mi Fei is frightened, but clever, and he uses his beloved scrolls and his love for the people of his village to successfully complete the tasks. In the end, the gigantic dragon fades away until all that remains is a small paper version of himself. In an extraordinary feat of artistry, Sabuda uses the triple-page gate-fold illustrations both to relate the story in the style of Chinese scrolls and to capture the drama of the confrontation between the gentle artist and the awe-inspiring dragon. Each picture is cut from painted tissue paper created by Sabuda and placed on a background of handmade Japanese paper. The combination of the ever-increasing size of the dragon (climaxing in a picture of his teeth framing an entire spread) and the cleverness of Mi Fei creates a strong tale with plenty of action for the story-hour audience. h.b.z. Bob Graham Queenie, One of the Family; illus. by the author (Preschool, Younger) This warm family story begins on the opening endpapers as a bantam hen stands at the edge of a soft blue lake. Baby Caitlin and her mom and dad, walking in the countryside, soon spot the hen floundering in the lake, and Dad leaps in for a daring rescue. They warm the hen and bring her home, and "that might have been the end of the story...but it wasn't!" The hen, dubbed Queenie, soon becomes one of the family, taking over the dog's basket and witnessing Caitlin's first steps. But Caitlin's mom knows Queenie has another home, so the whole family sets off to return her to a nearby farm. "That might have been the end of the story...but it wasn't." Queenie returns each morning to lay a perfect brown egg in Bruno's basket, just right for Caitlin's breakfast or for baking a birthday cake. When a new baby arrives and Caitlin forgets to collect the eggs, Bruno hatches a litter of chicks. The immensely appealing animals and people are depicted in gentle watercolors with loose, comfortable lines. Th (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Review

Gr 4-9-Red Scarf Girl (HarperCollins, 1997) is the memoir of Ji-Li Jiang, who grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution. Ji-Li Jiang was only 12 when Mao Zedong instituted the Cultural Revolution, and her life was greatly affected. An intelligent child, she quickly learned that her "bad" class status meant more in this new China than her scholastic successes. Her grandfather was a landlord, which caused the Jiang family many hardships. Throughout it all, Ji-Li struggled to remain loyal to both her family and Chairman Mao. She witnessed many of the humiliations experienced by people who had bad class status. Through an epilogue, listeners discover the final outcome for Ji-Li Jiang, her family, and some of the others highlighted in this memoir. Listeners are drawn into this emotional story immediately. Christina Moore's narration carries the story, conveying the emotional tensions that existed in Ji-Li's life. Moore does an excellent job of varying her tone and allowing each character to find his/her own voice, making it easy for listeners to follow the plot and distinguish the characters. This audiobook should fly off the shelf through word of mouth.-Kathryn King, Walnut Hill Branch, Dallas Public Library, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Red Scarf Girl (rack) A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution Chapter One I was born on Chinese New Year. Carefully, my parents chose my name: Ji-li, meaning lucky and beautiful. They hoped that I would be the happiest girl in the world. And I was. I was happy because I was always loved and respected. I was proud because I was able to excel and always expected to succeed. I was trusting, too. I never doubted what I was told: "Heaven and earth are great, but greater still is the kindness of the Communist Party; father and mother are dear, but dearer still is Chairman Mao." With my red scarf, the emblem of the Young Pioneers, tied around my neck, and my heart bursting with joy, I achieved and grew every day until that fateful year, 1966. That year I was twelve years old, in sixth grade. That year the Cultural Revolution started. The Liberation Army Dancer Chairman Mao, our beloved leader, smiled down at us from his place above the blackboard. The sounds and smells of the tantalizing May afternoon drifted in through the window. The sweet breeze carried the scent of new leaves and tender young grass and rippled the paper slogan below Chairman Mao's picture: study hard and advance every day. In the corner behind me the breeze also rustled the papers hanging from the Students' Garden, a beautifully decorated piece of cardboard that displayed exemplary work. One of them was my latest perfect math test. We were having music class, but we couldn't keep our minds on the teacher's directions. We were all confused by the two-part harmony of the Young Pioneers' Anthem. "We are Young Pioneers, successors to Communism. Our red scarves flutter on our chests," we sang over and over, trying to get the timing right. The old black pump organ wheezed and squeaked as impatiently as we did. We made another start, but Wang Da-yong burst out a beat early, and the whole class broke into laughter. Just then Principal Long appeared at the door. She walked in, looking less serious than usual, and behind her was a stranger, a beautiful young woman dressed in the People's Liberation Army uniform. A Liberation Army soldier! She was slim and stood straight as a reed. Her eyes sparkled, and her long braids, tied with red ribbons, swung at her waist. There was not a sound in the classroom as all forty of us stared at her in awe. Principal Long told us to stand up. The woman soldier smiled but did not speak. She walked up and down the aisles, looking at us one by one. When she finished, she spoke quietly with Principal Long. "Tong Chao and Jiang Ji-li," Principal Long announced. "Come with us to the gym." A murmur rose behind us as we left the room. Tong Chao looked at me and I looked at him in wonder as we followed the swinging braids. The gym was empty. "I want to see how flexible you are. Let me lift your leg," the Liberation Army woman said in her gentle voice. She raised my right leg over my head in front of me. "Very good! Now I'll support you. Lean over backward as far as you can." That was easy. I bent backward until I could grab my ankles like an acrobat. "That's great!" she said, and her braids swung with excitement. "This is Jiang Ji-li." Principal Long leaned forward proudly. "She's been studying martial arts since the second grade. She was on the Municipal Children's Martial Arts Team. Their demonstration was even filmed." The Liberation Army woman smiled sweetly. "That was very good. Now you may go back to your classroom." She patted me on my head before she turned back to test Tong Chao. I went back to class, but I could not remember the song we were singing. What did the Liberation Army woman want? Could she want to choose me for something? It was too much to contemplate. I hardly moved when the bell rang to end school. Someone told me that the principal wanted to see me. I walked slowly down the hall, surrounded by my shouting and jostling classmates, seeing only the beautiful soldier, feeling only the electric tingle of her soft touch on my head. The office door was heavy. I pushed it open cautiously. Some students from the other sixth-grade classes were there already. I recognized Wang Qi, a girl in class two, and one of the boys, You Xiao-fan of class four. I didn't know the other boy. The three of them sat nervously and respectfully opposite Principal Long. I slipped into a chair next to them. Principal Long leaned forward from her big desk. "I know you must be wondering about the Liberation Army soldier," she said. She sounded cheerful and excited. "Why did she come? Why did she want you to do back bends?" She looked at us one by one and then took a long sip from her tea mug as if she wanted to keep us guessing. "She was Comrade Li from the Central Liberation Army Arts Academy." I slowly took a deep breath. "She is recruiting students for the dance training class. She selected you four to audition. It's a great honor for Xin Er Primary School. I'm very proud of all of you, and I know you'll do your best." I did not hear the rest of her words. I saw myself in a new Liberation Army uniform, slim and standing straight as a reed, long braids swinging at my waist. A Liberation Army soldier! One of the heroes admired by all, who helped Chairman Mao liberate China from oppression and defeated the Americans in Korea. And a performer, just like my mother used to be, touring the country, the world, to tell everyone about the New China that Chairman Mao had built and how it was becoming stronger and stronger. I couldn't help giving Wang Qi a silly smile. Red Scarf Girl (rack) A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution . Copyright © by Ji-li Jiang. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-Li Jiang All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.