book review

Little Leap Forward—A Boy in Bejing by Guy Yue and Clare Farrow {Guest Post by Hannah Rials}

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{Guest post By Hannah Rials}

Little Leap Forward is the story of a young boy in Revolutionary China. He lives in the musician’s  quarter with his mother and sisters, where he is trying to find inspiration for the music. He hears music in everything—fish, silk worms, birds—and just like his father, he aspires to become a great musician. Little Leap as he is commonly called enjoys his life, his friends Little-Little and Blue, and most enjoys his times at the river. He skips stones, catches fish, and flies white kites as often as he can. Even through the hardships of his time—matching clothing, rationed food—he manages to find happiness.
One day, Little-Little catches a little bird for Little Leap, which he decides to take home. He quickly builds a home for his new friend, planning to learn her, who he names Little Cloud, beautiful son. But no matter what he does, Little Cloud will not sing. His friends and family try to convince him that captivity is not the life for her. But he knows he just hasn’t found her inspiration yet. So to help her beloved son along, Little Leap’s mother buys him a bamboo flute and pays for his lessons with a little jar of soy sauce. Little Leap makes it his mission to become a wonderful flute player so that soon he will be able to hear Little Cloud’s song.
Then tragedy strikes. Chairman Mao becomes convinced that all intellectuals, books, and writers are against the revolution, and so the Red Guard is formed. They begin burning books, pictures—all memories of the old China. During this time, life becomes more restricted, his friend Blue moves to the country, and he slowly comes to the realization that Little Cloud really isn’t made for courtyard life. One day, he takes Little Cloud’s cage out to the river and opens the door. One moment, she’s in the cage; the next, she’s gone. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. One day, after a long time of not going to the river, Little Leap decides to take his flute down to practice. He practices his scales and a few melodies he memorized. Then suddenly, Little Cloud reappears, recognizes him, and allows him to hold her. He began to play for her and was thrilled when she replied. He didn’t even realize when she wasn’t there anymore. For the first time in a long time, Little Leap was happy.
This book is very special. Not only is it a beautiful story, but a true story. Guo Yue based Little Leap Forward on his own childhood in the musician’s courtyard during Revolutionary China. The story is meaningful and illustrates a lifestyle during a rough time in China. Like other Barefoot Books stories, Guy Yue and Clare Farrow tell an inspirational, educational story that will live on in our hearts.
Something To Do:
1. learn more about the Erhu (Chinese Violin)

2. Ever wondered How to Skip Stones? Here’s your chance to Learn!
1. Pick the right stone: flat, uniform thickness/thinness, fits in your palm, and no heavier than a tennis ball. Too heavy and the rock won’t skip off the water. 2. Hold the stone between your thumb and middle finger, with your thumb on top, and your index finger hooked along the edge. 3. Stand facing the water at a slight angle. With rock in hand, pull your arm back like you’re going to throw a sidearm pitch. 4. As you throw the rock, cock your wrist back. Right before the release, give your wrist a quick flick. This will create the spin needed for the stone to skip across the water. 5. Throw out and down at the same time. For maximum skips, the stone should enter the water at a 20 degree angle. Scientists have found this to be the optimal angle for stone skipping! 6. Have fun skipping stones with your kiddos!
3. Take The Silkworm Challenge!
4. Make a Paper Kite:
-Cut a diamond out of white paper and decorate with symbols such as a dragon, phoenix, silk worm, or fish.
-Depending on where you live in the world, find some type of smooth sticks, and make a cross on one side the paper
-You can make the tails with streamers to make it colorful.
-Tie a string where the sticks intersect that you will use to control the kite.
– Wait for a windy day, then let it fly
5. Print off some Phoenix coloring pages:


6. Create your own Bamboo Flute!


Hannha rials

Born in the hills of Louisiana and raised in the mountains of Tennessee, Hannah Rials is a eighteen year-old aspiring author and editor. She’s been writing short stories since she was a little girl, but for the past several years, she has been writing, editing, and reediting a novel of her own that she hopes to publish in the near future.  Hannah has always loved reading and the world of books. With a librarian grandmother who can tell the most magical stories, how could she not fall in love with the written word. Her library collection and love for books grows every day.



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