Review Blog

Aug 15 2017

Shaozhen by Wai Chim

cover image

Through my eyes, natural disaster zones book 2. Allen And Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760113797
(Age: Year 4+) Highly recommended. This is a thought provoking account of the hardship a small village faced in the 2014 drought in Henan, China. Shaozhen has no intention of staying in his remote Henan village and becoming another poor farmer. He intends to finish school, and then, hopefully, work in a factory in one of the major cities, just like his father. But when Shaozhen returns home for the summer holidays, imagining days filled with nothing but playing basketball with his friends, he's in for a shock. The worst drought in over sixty years threatens the crops that the entire village relies on for income. The situation becomes so bad that Shaozhen's mother must join his father in a larger city to earn money with the threat of there being no harvest to generate an income. He is left behind to live with his grandmother. Shaozhen is soon faced with the harsh realities that accompany drought and spends a large part of his day finding alternative sources of water that must be carted by hand to provide them with enough water for drinking and cleaning, as they watch their crops wither away. When these sources dry up, the villages must travel to a nearby town and collect two buckets of water per family per day.
As the water situation becomes dire, Shaozhen realises he must come up with a plan. But will it be enough to save his family and friends and secure the future of his village?
I would highly recommend this book for Year 4 students and up. I can see it fitting into our unit on natural disasters and it would make a great read aloud. Just be aware that the last couple of chapters touch on AIDS. This book presents themes such as determination, village pride and perseverance.
I enjoyed the author's notes, timelines and glossary at the end of the book as I found I was left wanting to find out more about this drought. A fantastic addition to this series.
Kathryn Schumacher

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