By Donna Jo Napoli

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780689861758, 192pp.

Publication Date: November 2, 2004



Bound to her father's second wife and daughter after Xing Xing's father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than that of livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed "Lazy One" by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society.

But all of this is about to change as the time for the village's annual festival draws near, and Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family's money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future.

In this searing story, Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of Beast and Breath, delves into the roots of the Cinderella myth and unearths a tale as powerful as it is familiar.

About the Author

Donna Jo Napoli is an acclaimed and award-winning author of children's books.  She won the Golden Kite Award for Stones in Water in 1997. Her novel Zel was named an American Bookseller Association Pick of the List, a Publishers Weekly Best Book, a BCCB Blue Ribbon, and a School Library Journal Best Book, and a number of her other novels have been selected as ALA Best Books. Her recent picture books include The Earth Shook and Mama Miti. Donna Jo is the head of the linguistics department at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and their children. You can visit her online at