Summer is drawing to a close here in Canada and I’ve just returned from a fabulous four-week holiday spent cruising British Columbia’s gorgeous Central and South Coasts. There are a lot of wonderful things about boating but one of my favorites is that a lot of time can be devoted to reading! The kids and I always bring along a big stack of library books, purchase a few books along the way and make the most of the free drop-off/trade-in shelves at most marinas. Needless to say we never run out of reading material!
One of the books I brought along this year was Donna Jo Napoli’s young adult novel Bound. Initially intrigued by the book’s cover, one month after reading it I am still entranced by the story! Set in a small village during China’s Ming period, Bound is a Chinese version of Cindrella. Reviewer Jennifer Mo says:
This is not your familiar, comfortable Cinderella story. There are no magic wands or pumpkin coaches, and happily ever after happens only in, well, fairy tales. Real life offers few of these sugar-spun fantasies, particularly for three unsupported women in a Ming dynasty Chinese village. Fourteen-year-old Xing Xing, her stepmother and her half-sister Wei Ping are each bound: socially, ideologically and financially. The physical, crippling binding of Wei Ping’s feet is a metaphor for an encompassing system of patriarchal privilege. But in another sense of the word, to be bound is also to be heading towards something — not so much a fate, as a rare and precious choice of fates.
Donna Jo Napoli writes for all ages, from picture books through young adult books (great reads for adults too!); and is the recipient of many book awards. Her writing ranges from contemporary fiction to fantasy to historical novels (my favorite!); and her books have been translated into over 13 languages. She also writes mathematics and science tales, as well as books geared toward helping deaf people learn to read. Several of her books are re-tellings of fairy tales: Hansel and Gretel in The Magic Circle, Rapunzel in Zel, Jack and the Beanstalk in Crazy Jack, Rumpelstiltskin in Spinners, and Beauty and the Beast in Beast, which Napoli sets in ancient Persia.