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A Girl Named Faithful Plum: A True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream
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A Girl Named Faithful Plum: A True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  147 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In 1977, when Zhongmei Lei was eleven years old, she learned that the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy was having open auditions. She'd already taken dance lessons, but everyone said a poor country girl would never get into the academy, especially without any connections in the Communist Party of the 1970s. But Zhongmei, whose name means Faithful Plum, persisted, even goi ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Very good.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libs678
Non-Fiction A Girl Named Faithful Plum: The True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream
By: Richard Bernstein
Pairing I paired the book “A Girl Named Faithful Plum” with the TeenNick show Dance Academy because they both relate to a passion for dance.
Audience I would recommend this book to any middle or high school student interested in dance. It also has a common theme of working hard to achieve your dreams. The main character is from a small town in China during the Cultural
Feb 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-books
True story of an impoverished 11 year old girl from northern China (Siberia being the town's back fence) in the 1970s who travels to Beijing and tries out for the Beijing Dance Academy (She and 30,000 other kids). Her difficulties in getting to Beijing and then the prejudices she faces at the school make for a wonderful tale. She’s an amazing girl and I liked the story.


It read like a 40 year-old man was ‘telling’ us about and 11 year old girl. It was REALLY dry. Biographical dry. Lacking in
Abby Johnson
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it

This is an amazing story of perseverance and dedication to art. Even though it meant three days and two nights of torturous travel on filthy trains crammed with people, eleven-year-old Li Zhongmei was determined to get to Beijing to audition for the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy. She knew she had a very small chance of getting in - the school accepted only 12 girls and 12 boys from the whole country. And once she reached Beijing she realized that many people looked down on her for being a
I was torn between three and four stars, so I rounded up to four. I liked this book a lot, but I thought it also had some problems. It's a biography of a young girl and supposedly covers a single year of her life, yet, the disclosure at the very beginning states two years were condensed into one. The writing was fairly simplified, which may be a result of it being for a younger, non adult, audience. I would have enjoyed getting more than just one (or two) years of Li Zhongmei's life. She perseve ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
**EDIT: I know the title is weird, but this book should not be judged by its title (or by its cover, as a matter of fact)** This is a very touching true story about how Li Xiaozheng, a country girl, goes from being a reject and an outcast to being her country's most famous and respected dancer. The story was beautifully told, and I especially loved reading about Xiaozheng's family. However, reading about her success makes us think about all of the children who didn't get to reach their goals and ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, but had a few reservations about it. It was a very compelling story, with a very good amount of detail, but the ending was rushed and I was left wanting more. I wanted to walk with Zonghmei through all eight of her years at the Dance Academy, because while it was nice to be told things got better for her, I would have rather read the how instead.

The author writes from experience here but I won't tell the reason why because it was fun to discover it by accident as the book wra
Leah Ryan
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an exquisite book for 5-8th grade readers who have a passion or a dream. But what the wonderful thing about this book is adults can read this, but the vocabulary would be easy for them. So I recommend this book for a book talk. It is amazing how this poor little girl can rely on where her dream takes her at age 11. It was one of the best books I ever read. And if a child has to read a biography for school, but does not like biographys, this book is written as a story. I cant say one ...more
Zhongmei's story was amazing. Her battle to overcome the adversaries life set against her was incredible. The fact that she persevered through it all is incredible.

HOWEVER.....the writing leaves MUCH to be desired. It's extremely dry and rather boring really. The tale itself is interesting, but the teller of the tale made me want to shoot him. There were too many details added that could have been left out.

Personally, I think the author should have stuck to being a foreign correspondant.

An experienced girl dancer named Zhongmei dreams to get in the Beijing dance academy. Nobody was on her side they all thought that a poor girl would never get into dance academy. The name Zhongmei means faithful plum. No matter how many people said she couldn't do it she still tried. Her teacher said it would be the hardest thing she will ever do. In the end she ends up beating thousands of dancers and she was only at a young age. Faithful plum became a famous dancer who made her dream come true ...more
The author relates how 11-year-old Li Zhongmei traveled from a remote village in rural China
to become one of only a dozen girls selected to study ballet at the Beijing Dance Academy in

This is a really well-written narrative that encourages readers to believe in their dreams and
pursue their passions. It is also very detailed and descriptive: Bernstein devotes almost half the book to Zhongmei’s journey to her audition in Beijing. While I enjoyed learning about Zhongmei’s pre-Academy experi
Teresa Bateman
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This Junior Library Guild selection is a fascinating biography of Li Zhongmei who was a farmgirl in China, and went on to become one of its most famous dancers. The opposition she faced, and her sheet gutsy perseverance make for a compelling tale that is hard to put down. Readers cheer for her successes and grumble at the injustices she faces. I'm not a big dance enthusiast, but I found this book very hard to put down.
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. As someone who was very involved in ballet until I was about 14 and someone who has studied Chinese for the last 6 years and lived in Beijing for a year this book was a really fun read. For some reason I just love reading kids books about China and this one fell right into that category. I would highly recommend for late elementary/early middle school kids.
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
This was an uplifting and inspiring book about a young Chinese dancer from the country who managed to succeed despite the fact that the odds were stacked against her. As someone who dances and knows how hard the dance world can be, I found this book to be a different perspective on the world of dance.
This is a truly amazing story. As an Asian girl with parents who have a rough background, I feel very close to this book and the message is clear. Any flower can blossom with faith and hope that will overcome the bad. Zhongmei is truly a hero to be able to rise out of the pain and suffering that she endured.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic
I loved the premise of the book, the details about life as a dancer in china, and the story in general. I did not love the writing. There were so many times where I thought I should be emotionally invested but was not, where the author could have done more to pull me in and immerse me. I liked the information but this book did not make me feel at all.
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! That is so cool that the author is married to the girl Li Zhongmei. This book had a lot of information about Zhongmei and how worked hard to be an amazing dancer at the Beijing Dance Academy. I would recommend this book to anyone.
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book and it's beautiful story that was true of a dancer from china. I encourage any young dancers to read this book and anyone that wants to accomplish something that seems out of their reach.
Emmy Lou
What a wondeful book! I enjoyed learning about Zhongmei's journey from a farm girl into the best dancer in her class. This book played with my emotions and really had me rooting for Zhongmei. I am glad I picked this book for my reading challenge.
Jane H
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed the thoughtful writing of Chinese culture. My library shelved this as an adult book, but I think it'd be fantastic for a young teen as well. Great coming of age story.
Khantey Lim
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comfort-to-read
You will succed if you determine to achieve! Opportuniy only knocks once!
Melissa Robinson
A truly wonderful book that I enjoyed reading to my daughter. This is an inspiring story that can be enjoyed by young or old alike and you do not need to be a dancer to enjoy it.
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read my review at Let's Talk Books
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Growing up in the small town of East Haddam, Connecticut, RICHARD BERNSTEIN always dreamed of seeing the world, and after he finished university he figured a great way to do that would be to become a newspaper reporter. So he became a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine and then the New York Times, which sent him all expenses paid!) to lots of countries, including Hong Kong, China, Thailand, I ...more
More about Richard Bernstein...