The Girl Mechanic of Wanzhou
The Girl Mechanic of Wanzhou is a novel written for middle schoolers by author Marjorie Sayer. This book won First Runner Up for the Scholastic Asia Book Award in 2011. Asianmommy received a free copy of this book for review.
The story takes place in a village in China in 1902. Twelve-year-old Zun lives with her mother and father and spends most of her time helping her father work in the foundry. Her father designs bicycles, and she happily works alongside him.
One horrible day, Zun's parents are attacked. Her mother comes home injured, and her father does not return at all. Soon, her mother is arrested, and Zun must find a way to help bring her home safely. She starts off on a quest to find help for her mother. Shifu, Han, and Li, old friends of her parents, come to her aid.
Zun sneaks her way into the Magistrate's compound to gather information about her mother. She is armed only with a small green silk purse containing small glass bottles filled with potions from Dr. Hei. Will Zun ever find a way to set her mother free?
What I liked: This story sets the stage from the very first chapter--the details situate you in long ago China, and then a terrible tragedy strikes. Following along Zun's journey, you can't help but hope for her and root for her, feeling her joys and her sorrows deeply. This is a story well told.
What could be improved: Some of the events which unfold in this story seem utterly inconceivable, but I suppose that is the purpose of fiction, to take you away from common-sense reality. :)