Ruby's Wish
Ruby's Wish
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Annotation: In China, at a time when few girls are taught to read or write, Ruby dreams of going to the university with her brothers and male cousins.
Catalog Number: #4510504
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition Date: 2002
Illustrator: Blackall, Sophie,
Pages: 36
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-8118-3490-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-8118-3490-2
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2001007406
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Born into a large, wealthy Chinese family, Ruby is named for the color she loves and wears every day. She studies traditional subjects such as embroidery and cooking but she also flourishes at the family school, even though in those days girls rarely learned to read or write. When she writes a sorrowful poem about her family where only boys are cared for, Ruby's grandfather summons her for an explanation. Ruby confesses her desire to attend a university, and at a family celebration he surprises her with an announcement of her university acceptance. On the final page the narrator reveals that this is based on a true story: Ruby is my grandmother, and every day she still wears a little red. Told in a concise, straightforward style, the narrative provides just enough background for young children. With crimson outlines and highlights, the gouache art features a vibrant, red Ruby set against predominantly neutral backgrounds. Ruby's tale will supplement multicultural and women's history units and serve as a springboard to other family stories.
Horn Book
Twelve-year-old Kat dreams of attending art school in Boston, and fourteen-year-old Rose desperately tries to save a horse from slaughter in these sentimental stories set in a small, picturesque Massachusetts fishing village. There are few surprises from the predictable characters and formulaic circumstances, but the quaint setting is sure to find fans.
Kirkus Reviews
<p>In her debut effort, Bridges tells the story of her grandmother's unique place in Chinese history. Even in a wealthy household, being a young girl in China meant that education was something of a dream, but luckily Ruby's grandfather had a special place in his heart for his hard-working and talented granddaughter. Making his fortune in the California Gold Rush, one man returned to China to start a household full of wives and children and soon grandchildren. Even when the people in the household numbered over 100, it was easy to spot little Ruby in the group. Red was her favorite color and even when she was instructed to wear more traditionally colored clothing, Ruby insisted in twisting red ribbons into her dark hair. An enlightened man, the grandfather offered education to both boys and girls of the household and Ruby thrived. However, a poem that she wrote convinced her grandfather that perhaps he was not being completely equitable with his progeny. On what she believed to be her last New Year's Day as an unmarried woman, her grandfather presented her with a letter saying that she had received admission as one of the first women at a university. Softly colored, Asian-inspired gouache illustrations accompany this tale of one little girl's dream to become more than was traditionally possible. (Picture book. 4-8)</p>
School Library Journal
Gr 2-3 Ruby is as bright as her favorite color, red, but she lives at a time in which it is rare for girls to receive education beyond the domestic skills expected of women. Ruby's grandfather became rich in the California Gold Rush and has returned to China, where he has several wives, as is the custom. His sons also have several wives, and more than 100 children live in the very large home they all share. A teacher is hired for all of the children who wish to attend classes, including Ruby, who is a good student. Over the years, she and her grandfather discuss her class work, her thoughts, and her dreams. When it seems that Ruby will have no choice but to marry, her grandfather gives her a very special red packet for the New Year celebration, enabling her to become one of the first female students in a Chinese university. The story was inspired by the author's grandmother's life. The two main characters are well crafted, admirable, and engaging. The flowing text is a complement to Blackall's exquisite illustrations. The beauty of Asian art and motifs is captured page after page in the gouache illustrations, and the family portrait is chockablock full of individuals. As "red is the color of celebration" in China, Ruby should bring joy to many young readers. A lovely read-aloud with illustrations to linger over. Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

Bridges, in her first book (based on her grandmother's story), handles the conflict between Chinese tradition and young Ruby's longing to attend university with grace and compassion. She sets the scene with a description of "a block of houses, five houses wide and seven houses deep, [once] the magnificent home of one family." Ruby lives in this home with her grandfather (who "did what rich men did in old China: he married many wives"). A tutor teaches any of the 100 assorted grandchildren who wish to learn, but Ruby is the only girl who continues to study while also keeping pace with learning her many household duties. Bridges characterizes the heroine as confident and spunky. For instance, she "insist[s] on wearing red every day"; opposite, Blackall (A Giraffe for France) gives a nod to Chinese silkscreening with four poetic images of her, one per season, wearing various red outfits. One day, her teacher shows Ruby's grandfather a poem she has written in calligraphy: "Alas, bad luck to be born a girl; worse luck to be/ born into this house where only boys are cared for." Grandfather questions her about the poem, and she confides her wish to go to university. Years later, at a New Year's Day celebration, he proves that he was listening. Blackall conveys their special relationship in subtle ways: Grandfather's presence on the balcony, observing Ruby at her studies, a gentle stroke of her head when Ruby is called to Grandfather's office. This understated tale takes Ruby's predicament seriously while still celebrating her love of learning and her joyful personality. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Word Count: 1,133
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 60688 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.3 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q32805
Lexile: 860L
Guided Reading Level: N

Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author's grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby's Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who strives for more and a family who rewards her hard work and courage.


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