Author(s): Li Cunxin
This true story of a poor Chinese peasant boy, who at the age of ten was plucked unsuspectingly from millions of others across the land to be trained as a ballet dancer, is a fairytale that has captivated children and adults alike. Li tells his story with disarming simplicity and charm, with humour and compassion, and here he speaks directly to the small child, his special audience. He has a personal story to tell you, and he begins by introducing you to the land of his childhood, and to his beloved father, and to a small child who was once Li himself- he tells us of that boy growing up in hardship, yet with love and affection, as he shares with us the lives of his large family, the special stories in his life, the inspiring teachers, the experiences and moments he will never forget.
Li Cunxin (Author) Li Cunxin was born in 1961, in the New Village, Li Commune, near the city of Qingdao on the coast of north-east China. The sixth of seven sons in a poor rural family, Li's peasant life in Chairman Mao's communist China changed dramatically when, at the age of eleven, he was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural advisers to become a student at the Beijing Dance Academy. After a summer school in America, for which he was one of only two students chosen, he defected to the West and became a principal dancer for the Housten Ballet. Li went on to become one of the best male dancers in the world. He is now a senior manager in a major stockbroking firm and lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife Mary and their three children, Sophie, Tom and Bridie. Li's autobiography, Mao's Last Dancer has sold over 400,000 copies and has been published in over 20 countries. A children's version of the book was released in 2005. Anne Spudvilas (Illustrator) Anne Spudvilas is one of Australia's foremost picture book illustrators and is an established artist. She divides her time between commissioned portraits, her work as a courtroom artist, and her award-winning illustrations for children's books. Her first picture book, The Race by Christobel Mattingley, won the Crichton Award for Illustration and was an Honour Book in the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Awards in 1996. Anne has produced many award-winning picture books, including Jenny Angel by Margaret Wild, winner of the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award, 2000, and Woolvs in the Sitee by Margaret Wild, shortlisted for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award, 2007 and joint winner in the Children's Short Story category of the 2006 Aurealis Award