Monday, October 21, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Circle of Cranes

Today’s Pick: Circle of Cranes by Annette LeBox

Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012

From Amazon:

Thirteen-year-old Suyin is a poor orphan who has a strange gift with languages and a mysterious connection to the cranes in her small Chinese village. When a shady human trafficker arrives promising luxury and riches beyond belief in America, the villagers elect Suyin - whom they consider lucky - to go as their benefactress. But instead of luxury, Suyin is forced to work in a sweatshop in New York City's Chinatown. Suyin's future seems hopeless, until her beloved cranes arrive and reveal that she is no ordinary girl - instead, she is the daughter of the Crane Queen. Now her mother's life is in danger, and Suyin must prove herself worthy of her position as the Crane Princess, in order to save her mother and the entire clan of cranes.

For fans of Grace Lin and Laurence Yep, this is a beautiful story of the meaning of family and finding one's true path in life.

My Take:
This story is an interesting combination of fantasy, legend and gritty realism. I got very absorbed by the hardships and difficulties Suyin had to endure when she traveled to Gold Mountain to earn money for her family. The book had the feel of a historical novel and at first I thought it was, but notes in the back explain that it’s based on events that took place in more recent time (1999-2000). That definitely gave me a lot to think about. I love legends and was intrigued by the legend of the cranes.

As a writer, I especially enjoyed the images of nature that were woven throughout the story.
Opening Line:

“Teacher Zhang was in the middle of her English lesson when Zhu Suyin heard the high-pitched rattle.”


“The crane took small graceful steps like a miniature ballerina wearing a feather tutu."

“Stitching was the sum of all her inadequacies, a mirror held up to her in a harsh, unyielding light.”

“It would be a lie to say she was content to be rooted to the ground like a turnip. But standing among the crowd, she felt a part of the human sisterhood.”

Other Info:

Annette LeBox lives in British Columbia, where she spends some of her time in a remote cabin.

In an interview at Mangia Maniac Café , she said, “Except for my first book, Miss Rafferty’s Rainbow Socks, a story about friendship, all of my books have been inspired by threats to wildlife, particularly cranes and salmon.”

Other Books by this Author Include:

Salmon Creek (picture book)

The Girl Who Danced With Cranes (picture book)

Wild Bog Tea

Miracle at Willow Creek

Miss Rafferty’s Rainbow Socks (picture book)

For more info, visit Annette LeBox’s website.


You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger's blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novel, Keeper of the Lost Cities.


  1. What an interesting mix of story elements!

  2. Sounds great, and like a really fresh story / perspective.

  3. I can't believe I've never heard of this book. It sounds wonderful. Love the quotes.


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