Chinese Heritage Tale Tour
by Camille Picott
Emma Chan-McDougal receives a special gift from her Auntie Gracie: a rag doll named Raggedy Chan. But Raggedy Chan is no ordinary doll. She is a beautiful Chinese princess who lives in a jasper palace on the enchanted isle of Kunlun. The peace of her island home is threatened when Drought Fury steals Winged Dragon, bringer of rain. Without Winged Dragon, Kunlun will wither and die.
To save her stricken homeland, Raggedy Chan sets forth alone. Her quest leads her to America, where she meets people who distrust her because she’s different. Can Raggedy Chan adapt to the strange ways of this new land and rescue her beloved dragon?
In this modern fairy tale, Chinese-American author Camille Picott draws on her heritage to weave a story of magic, adventure, and sacrifice.
“What do you have in there?” Emma eyed the large canvas bag hanging from Auntie Gracie’s shoulder.Auntie Gracie smiled. “I show you. Come sit on couch.”Emma scrambled up, pulling the red-haired rag doll into her lap. Auntie Gracie sat beside her, picking up the doll.“This your favorite toy?”“It’s from Grandma McDougal,” Emma said. “She had a raggedy doll just like this one when she was a little girl.”Auntie Gracie pursed her lips and placed the doll on the coffee table. She reached into the canvas bag and pulled out a new rag doll. The yarn pigtails hung long and black. She wore a bright red dress and a white smock. Her black eyes, stitched of thread, had a distinct almond shape.“She for you.” Auntie Gracie plopped the new doll into Emma’s lap. “Her name Raggedy Chan.”“Raggedy Chan?” Emma burst into giggles, hugging the doll to her chest. “Wasn’t that Mommy’s last name before she married Daddy?”Auntie Gracie nodded. “You like her?”“I love her.”“I tell you about Raggedy Chan. She from China, like me. You like to hear how she come to America?”“Oh, yes, please.” Emma snuggled up next to Auntie Gracie, pulling a throw blanket over her legs. “I love stories.” She cuddled Raggedy Chan. Her other raggedy doll lay facedown and forgotten on the coffee table.Auntie Gracie arranged part of the blanket over her own legs. “One time, far away, there mountain kingdom called Kunlun . . .”
Buy links: Amazon
When fifth-grade Emma Chan-McDougal is ridiculed by her classmates for being part Chinese, she's devastated. To ease Emma's wounded self-esteem, her aunt, a Chinese immigrant, spins the mythical tale of a brave little Nine-Tail Fox named Ainu who lives in San Francisco.
In a parallel animal world that comes to life when humans slumber, Ainu Nine-Tail and her mother face off against Chih Yu, an ancient demon who feeds on hatred. As the last of their clan, the Nine-Tails are honor-bound by a family oath to defend the Chinese animals from the demon. When Chih Yu kills her mother and leads an angry mob against Chinatown, Ainu is left to complete the task alone. Raw with grief and only partially trained for battle, Ainu must reach deep inside herself to find the wisdom and courage to save her people.
Will the journey of Ainu Nine-Tail help Emma find the strength to confront the school bullies and win back her confidence?
In this modern Chinese fable, Chinese-American author Camille Picott draws on her heritage to weave a story of courage, truth, and adventure.
Read an excerpt:
A young nine-tail fox stood at the railing of a freighter steamship, white fur ruffling in the nighttime breeze. Her real name was Lang-Dao, which meant “bright leader,” but everyone called her Ainu. It was her mother’s nickname for her, meaning “sweet girl.”Most of the humans on the ship slept in their bunks, leaving the deck swathed in silence and darkness. Hiding from those few humans still awake, Ainu and Mama Nine-Tail stood in the shadow of a big coiled rope.The ship rode the ocean’s deep, even breaths. Ainu stared at the lights spangling the silhouetted city. The tall buildings yawned up at the sky like jagged teeth, seeming on the edge of violence.The moon, three-quarters full, hung crookedly in the night. It shed light on a small island between the city and freighter. No plants grew on that mound of bronze-colored earth. Two long arms of land sprouted on either side of it. In the rippling light, those narrow peninsulas gave the island the appearance of having wings.Studying that harsh landscape and, beyond it, the massive mainland city, Ainu shivered.“San Francisco doesn’t look very welcoming,” she said, leaning against Mama.“That is because Chih Yu is there,” Mama said. “He spreads his hatred for the Chinese among the American animals.”“Which is why I must begin my training as soon as we get to shore,” Ainu said. She hoped she didn’t sound too eager. It wasn’t good to be excited when her fellow animals suffered. “So I can help protect the Chinese animals,” she added.Mama nodded. “Master Zheng sent me word of events in America before we boarded,” she said. Master Zheng was Mama’s longtime friend. He sent her regular reports on Chih Yu’s activities in America. “We could very well find ourselves part of the greatest battle against Chih Yu since the time of the Yellow Emperor. Chih Yu has become corporeal, my daughter.”
Buy links: Amazon
I enjoyed reading this series. Folktales from other cultures have long fascinated me, because there are so many ways to tell similar stories. I love the Camille is sharing her cultural and family heritage by penning the stories that have been passed down in her family.
'Raggedy Chan' introduces young Emma to her Chinese heritage as she learns how to play Mahjong and to properly hold her chopsticks (both of which I have apparently been doing wrong all of these years, despite what I had learned). It also tells her the story behind her new doll, who is also struggling to find her way in a mixed culture with a mixed heritage. This story alternates between Emma's discussions with her auntie and Raggedy Chain's story, which shows how the two go together.
'Nine-Tail Fox' also features Emma at the beginning. She is struggling with a "Mean Girl" at school, who makes fun of her for being half-Chinese. She is distraught and turns to her auntie for advice. Auntie Gracie tells her the story of Ainu, the nine-tail fox, who must fight against the evil Chih-Yu. It is an epic tale with a message, that Emma takes with her when she returns to school and has to face her own enemies again. Emma is empowered to take on Melissa. While I don't like Emma being mean to Melissa to make her point, I think it shows that you can stand up to bullies and sometimes even work things out again. The focus of this book is on the fable as inspiration for life, as opposed to interspersed life lessons like in 'Raggedy Chan.'
Both of these books are enjoyable for kids, as well as adults. You can learn a lot from them, no matter your heritage.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Camille Picott is a fifth-generation Chinese American. She writes science fiction and fantasy books with Asian characters and/or Asian settings. Camille grew up reading speculative fiction stories largely devoid of Asian characters and culture. This, coupled with a passion for her heritage, is the reason she strives to bring some aspect of Eastern myth, legend, culture, and ethnicity to all of her writings.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/camillepicott or @camillepicott
You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/camillepicott
Camille will be awarding an autographed Raggedy Chan bookmark to every commenter; a Chinese Heritage Tale illustration signed by the author and illustrator to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour, and a grand prize of a Limited Edition Raggedy Chan Doll to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. A choice of a Raggedy Chan doll or signed Chinese Heritage Tale print will be awarded to a randomly drawn host. (ALL ITEMS US ONLY) Follow the tour for more chances to win!
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