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Lady of Ch’iao Kuo: Warrior of the South by Laurence Yep

In the wild land of Southern China, sixteen year old Princess Red Bird spends her days reading, picnicking and watching the beautiful kingfishers that nest in the banks of the swift rivers. Even the most distasteful part of her life – being considered a “savage” by the native Chinese colonists – is tempered by the wonderful school she attends there. Under the kind supervision of her peaceful teacher, Master Chen, Red Bird learns the Chinese language, reading, writing and history, so she can aid her forest clan in their dealings with their Chinese neighbors, who speak different dialects. In one of his creative homework assignments, Master Chen asks Red Bird to write a history of her people, resulting in the creation of her diary, which she carries throughout her adventures.

In the midst of her mundane problems and sheltered life, a real issue suddenly arrives. Red Bird finds herself caught in a war between her clan, and their rivals, the fierce Dog Head Tribe. Now, Red Bird is sent back to school at the Chinese settlement, and must face the difficulty of protecting the family that hosts her from the Dog Head raids on the colony. Bravely, Red Bird uses the fighting skills she was taught in her clan, which only serves to frighten the Chinese further and convict them of her savageness!

When her wise, heroic father is killed in a bloody skirmish, Red Bird must return to her tribe and watch her brother – who is only a year older than she – struggle with the new responsibility of leadership thrown on his shoulders. Taking up arms in a daring, resourceful way, Red Bird courageously attempts to defeat the Dog Heads and save her kingdom, using an unlikely group of old men, women and little children.

Princess Red Bird's stoic valor comes alive through this fascinating novel, which beautifully depicts the Ancient Chinese culture. The peace that Red Bird strives for is also much-needed in today's world, making this story a relevant and thoroughly entertaining book.



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