Read Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin Anne Spudvilas Online

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In a poor village in northern China, a small boy named Li Cunxin was given the chance of a lifetime. Selected by Chairman Mao's officials from among millions of children to become a dancer, Li's new life began as he left his family behind.At the Beijing Dance Academy, days were long and difficult. Li's hard work was rewarded when he was chosen yet again, this time to traveIn a poor village in northern China, a small boy named Li Cunxin was given the chance of a lifetime. Selected by Chairman Mao's officials from among millions of children to become a dancer, Li's new life began as he left his family behind.At the Beijing Dance Academy, days were long and difficult. Li's hard work was rewarded when he was chosen yet again, this time to travel to America.From there his career took flight, and he danced in cities around the world—never forgetting his family, who urged him to follow his dreams....

Title : Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780802797780
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 40 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer Reviews

  • Barbara
    2019-02-19 14:45

    Another picture book, and what a stunning one! This picture book version of Mao's Last Dancer is notable for its beautiful illustrations. The pictures showing life in China are done in watercolor and ink on rice paper. The greys, blues and oranges reflect a world where little is easy, starvation is a possibilty for many, and hard work fills every minute. When Li Cunxin goes to the United States, the artistic medium changes to oils with deep blues and reds dominating the palette. It's an interesting contrast because the oils convey a sense of richness while the watercolor suits the constraints of life in China at this period. The book was published first in Australia where Anne Spudvilas is a well-known illustrator. One reason I think the pictures have such a sense of authenticity is that she not only traveled with Li Cunxin to his village and to the Beijing Dance Academy but also studied traditional Chinese brush painting.

  • Teri
    2019-02-22 16:44

    My girls LOVED LOVED LOVED this true story told by a Chinese Dancer who came to America. The illustrations are quite beautiful.

  • Stephanie Rice
    2019-03-09 08:40

    Stephanie Rice- READ 6252 Informational Picture BooksBook Title: Dancing to FreedomAuthor: Li CunxinShort Description of the Book: Dancing to Freedom is an autobiography written by Li Cunxin. Li Cunxin was born in China during the reign of Chairman Mao; throughout Cunxin’s childhood he and his family continually struggled to have enough food to eat and wood to burn for warmth during the long winter months. One day while Cunxin was at school, Mao’s soldiers went into his class and selected him to be trained as a male ballet dancer. Cunxin spent the rest of his childhood and his adolescence training at the Beijing Dance Academy. After an immense amount of hard work and dedication Cunxin is offered a position dancing in an American ballet company. He travels to America and becomes one of the most accomplished Chinese dancers in the world. Historical Focus: The book tells the story of Li Cunxin, one of the greatest male ballet dancers to come out of China during the late 1960’s. Although the story is centered around Li’s life as a ballet student, the tale is enhanced by the underlying references to life in Maoist China. Li and his family were continually struggling to survive; during the 1960’s millions of people in China were dying of starvation. Focus:1.) Narrative Structure: Cunxin writes his autobiography using a very traditional structure in order to provide readers an easy route for deciphering the main aspects of the text. The story told by Li, however, is structured in a way that allows for a more subtle story to be told behind the inspiring tale of hard work and dedication to ballet and self advancement. Li is able to embed references to the struggles that he and his family were facing under the leadership of Chairman Mao; this autobiography is a window into how children were selected for important positions within the Chinese society under the leadership of Mao. 2.) Historical Significance: Li Cunxin highlights the fundamental social and political issues that impacted China during the reign of Chairman Mao. Mao and his government officials made all of the decisions about how people lived, what they did and what they could own. The story allows students to investigate how the policies of Mao and his administration impacted a real person. Li’s story could be used as an activation essay for creating a discussion about the Mao’s political policies such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Students also can be asked to bring in additional autobiographies pertaining to life in China during the early 1960’s. TEACH: CCSS Connection- ELA- Literacy. RH.9-10.9- Compare and contrast treatments of the same topics in several primary and secondary sources.

  • Megan McReynolds
    2019-02-27 10:40

    1. Title: Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer2. 4 Stars3. Review: I found this book to be a little puzzling after I read it. On one hand, I really enjoy that it's a true story based on the life of Mao; on the other hand, I found it to be a little too simplistic and sugar-coated. It shows his life transition from deep poverty to becoming a professional ballet dancer who eventually comes to America. This "rags-to-riches" tale did capture my attention through the use of the "frog" story, and by the beautiful watercolor illustrations, however.

  • Emily
    2019-03-11 16:03

    n the early 1970s, a young boy leaves the only home he's ever known in desperately poor, rural China to study at the Beijing Dance Academy. After several years of hard work, practice and study, he is invited to visit the Houston Ballet as an exchange student. More and more opportunities open up for him as he travels the world dancing before audiences in London, Paris, and Moscow. In all these years – at least a decade – he is unable to return to China to see his family. Finally, one day he learns that his parents will be allowed to leave China to watch him perform. After so many years, they will finally be reunited!This beautifully illustrated children's book is surprisingly affecting. My heart just ached for the little boy separated from everything familiar and loving, and the loss both he and his parents must have felt over the years they were apart. I even shed a tear or two at the end when Mr. Cunxin's parents beam with joy from the audience while he dances the best Nutcracker of his life just for them. Anne Spudvilas's watercolors are richly evocative of the story's emotional impact. I enjoyed the progression of the color palette: mostly grays and blues early on while depicting Li's family's poverty and then his loneliness, moving toward warmer colors as he gains confidence through dancing, travels to America, and finally performs for his parents. *Note: For a more detailed and nuanced telling of the story written for adults, check out Mao's Last Dancer, Mr. Cunxin's earlier memoir.For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  • Roxanne Hsu Feldman
    2019-03-09 16:38

    The text has an honesty and clarity that moves briskly and fluidly. The illustrations are incredibly beautiful and authentic, with expert lines and color washes in mostly gray tones. The facial expressions are incredibly realistic and features show respect and understanding of the Chinese people. Although I think the "story" is a little thin, maybe too abridged from its adult version counterpart? It's a story of following your dreams but it does not quite convey the real struggle: there is no sign in the book proper that he defected from China in 1981 (one only finds out by reading the jacket flap.) No discussion is made in the text why it is so incredibly precious that his parents got to see him dance in America: how difficult it used to be for ANYONE to travel out of China, for example. As someone who lived on the other side of the Taiwan Straight and did not experience the Cultural Revolution but had always followed the "stories," I always wish that the reality of that very tough period is explained to children from other countries. Not so watered down and so glossed over...

  • Matthew
    2019-03-02 10:36

    This story is the picture book companion to the best-selling Mao's Last Dancer. It is a first-person account of overcoming hardship and is, for a good deal of the text, rather depressing, but it does describe a time and place in history that can only accurately be described as depressing, so it is to be understood. Still, the story is ultimately one of resiliency in the face of terrible odds. Li Cunxin managed, through talent, hard work, and a lot of good fortune, to make a life for himself in the United States and even to reunite with the family that he had to leave behind when he joined the Beijing Dance Academy. This is an interesting look into life during the Cultural Revolution that occurred in China told as only someone who lived it could. Really well done book. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  • Mary Lou Carolan
    2019-02-24 13:54

    Originally written as the adult memoir, Mao's Last Dancer, the story of Li Cunxin's life reads like a fairytale as he tells of growing up in communist China, yearning to be free and live a better life. This junior biography depicts the struggles of peasant life and how being chosen for the Beijing Dance Academy helped Li fulfill a dream few other children would ever realize. He was miraculously chosen from millions of children in China and yet he had no ballet experience. He went on to become a famous dancer. Although this version is simplified for children, the authors' end note brings it all together for a more complete understanding of his challenges under oppressive conditions and his ultimate triumph and defection to America. The illustrations are lovely and the story of a boy ballet dancer is a nice change of pace.

  • Gwen the Librarian
    2019-03-16 08:49

    This is a picture book version of Li Cunxin's biography Mao's Last Dancer. Li condenses his fascinating life with short, but lyrical prose and draws parallels between his life and his favorite fable from his childhood, making it easy for children to understand. The striking mixed media illustrations convey Li's emotions, ranging in colors from gray to deep reds and oranges. Li was a peasant in the Chinese countryside when he was chosen to attend the Beijing Dance Academy. He moved into the city and didn't see his parents again for years. After years of practice and hardship, Li was invited to dance in America, where his parents were finally brought to visit him. Li became a world-reknowned ballet star.

  • Shippseattle
    2019-03-08 10:37

    In a poor village in northern China, a small boy named Li Cunxin was given the chance of a lifetime. Selected by Chairman Mao’s officials from a...more [close] In a poor village in northern China, a small boy named Li Cunxin was given the chance of a lifetime. Selected by Chairman Mao’s officials from among millions of children to become a dancer, Li’s new life began as he left his family behind. At the Beijing Dance Academy, days were long and difficult. Li’s hard work was rewarded when he was chosen yet again, this time to travel to America. From there his career took flight, and he danced in cities around the world—never forgetting his family, who urged him to follow his dreams.[close]

  • Abby Johnson
    2019-03-04 12:00

    When Li Cunxin was a boy in China during Mao's Cultural Revolution, he was chosen to go to ballet school. He eventually became a renowned dancer and was offered a chance to study and perform in the United States, but due to the tension between China and America, that would mean leaving his family behind - possibly forever. Stark, beautiful illustrations bring the tone of this true story to life. An author's note includes information about China during the leadership of Mao Zedong. Kids will need scaffolding to understand the Cultural Revolution and what life was like at this time in China, but this would make a nice addition to classrooms studying dance, performance, or Communist China.

  • Lartemis
    2019-02-25 14:44

    I read the adult book "Mao's Last Dancer" and watch the DVD. As a retired elementary teacher and now a granny, I decided to also read the children's book version of Li Cunxin's autobiography. I'm so glad I did! What a sweetly told story and what beautiful illustrations by Anne Spudvilas. This book would be most appropriate for mature second graders and older. I can imagine reading it with my twin grandsons when they are 8 or 9...perhaps before we visit China together! Even at 65 I have dreams to follow just like Li Cunxin!

  • Linda Costello
    2019-03-05 12:46

    Li tells his own story of being a child in rural china. He talks of his almost starvation and how he was chosen at school to study ballet. He was taken from his family and brought to the city of Beijing where he became one of the most talented ballet dancers in China. He is brought by an American ballet master to America, which is where he becomes famous. He travels the world as a famous dancer. The book closes with his reunion with his parents at one of his performances.

  • Amanda
    2019-03-10 11:44

    Cunxin tells the “true story of Mao’s last dancer,” a first person narration by the author who left home to study dancing and became famous. The narrative is clearly-worded without being pedantic or condescending. Cunxin couples the narrative with colored sketches that reinforce the text. A multitude of colors are used, but they are all muted; the muted colors contribute to the dark mood whenever Cunxin discusses how much he misses his family.

  • Mary
    2019-02-23 11:52

    Small, gentle (true) tale about a young boy, plucked out of the "peasant class" in the Chinese countryside, who becomes a ballet dancer during Mao's cultural revolution. Some nice descriptions of his observations when he first came to America in the 1990's (So much food everywhere! Wow, money comes out from an ATM machine!).

  • Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
    2019-02-19 12:45

    Beautifully told story of a young boy living in China during the Cultural Revolution, and how he took advantage of opportunities that came his way to rise above his parents' poor station in life. This is the picture book version of a longer adult book, Mao's Last Dancer, which I now must read.

  • Joenna
    2019-03-05 16:44

    Selected by Chairman Mao's officials from among millions of children to become a dancer, Li's new life began as he left his family behind. At the Beijing Dance Academy, days were long and difficult. Li's hard work was rewarded when he was chosen yet again, this time to travel to America. Beautiful illustrations and a wonderful story to tell children that anything is possible.

  • Pamela
    2019-02-28 17:05

    Told in first-person, this book tells the story of Li Cunxin, a ballet dancer during Mao's reign who was picked by government officials to study ballet far away from his poor village and family, giving him a chance to escape the steep and narrow well of poverty. It is a story of sacrifice, and working hard, and reaching for a dream, all while remembering your roots and family. 680L

  • Rosie Harris
    2019-03-03 08:38

    This is a true story about a Chinese boy from a poor family who becomes a world famous dancer. I did not really connect with the story but I gave it 4 stars because the illustrations are amazing. I would use this book in my classroom if I needed to explain communism to a young group of students.

  • Shirlene
    2019-03-19 13:38

    About a young peasant sent to learn ballet at Madame Mao's dance school. It catches your interest right away and even if you don't know ballet, it's his story that is intreging. Wonderful book! Loved it!

  • Melanie
    2019-02-18 16:50

    A beautiful picture-book biography of Li Cunxin, a young boy who was chosen to study ballet in Maoist China. After years of studying, Li was allowed to travel to America to perform with the Houston Ballet. From there, he traveled all over the world as a famous ballerino.Historical note included.

  • Earl
    2019-02-28 10:01

    An interesting read about China's most famous dancer. The time period and situations briefly tackled upon in this inspiring picture book piqued my interest and may end up reading his memoir, Mao's Last Dancer.

  • Linda
    2019-03-08 14:50

    A true story about an eleven year old boy from a small village in China who becomes a world famous ballet dancer. He must make a very serious decision that will affect his dancing career and also his family.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-14 08:46

    Stunning pictures, a great biography of a little know person and coverage of an important time in China

  • Anna
    2019-03-10 09:40

    A ballet dancer has the opportunity in Mao's Arts movement to travel and eventually comes to the US. Very interesting story on the culture of the country.

  • Amanda
    2019-02-23 10:48

    Don't know which I liked better: the beautiful simplicity of the text or the gorgeous lines of the illustrations? Both meshed together perfectly to tell this story.

  • babyhippoface
    2019-02-28 12:54

    I expected more about what it meant to dance for Mao, but I suppose that wasn't really the point. Dancing brought Li Cunxin true freedom, both physically (out of Red China) and emotionally.

  • Trish
    2019-03-05 14:57

    Read this to the kids and was happy to share the story with them. I couldn't help filling in some from Mao's Last Dancer. They seemed to like it.

  • Teresa
    2019-03-07 09:51

    well done story line and illustrations

  • Jordan
    2019-02-22 12:48

    WoW that was a great story it touch me and it was also emotional and that was a great little tale about the frog in the well