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by Shirin Yim Bridges

illustrated by Sophie Blackall


School Library Journal:

Gr 2-3 –Ruby is as bright as her favorite color, red, but she lives at a time in which it is rare for girls to receive education beyond the domestic skills expected of women. Ruby’s grandfather became rich in the California Gold Rush and has returned to China, where he has several wives, as is the custom. His sons also have several wives, and more than 100 children live in the very large home they all share. A teacher is hired for all of the children who wish to attend classes, including Ruby, who is a good student. Over the years, she and her grandfather discuss her class work, her thoughts, and her dreams. When it seems that Ruby will have no choice but to marry, her grandfather gives her a very special red packet for the New Year celebration, enabling her to become one of the first female students in a Chinese university. The story was inspired by the author’s grandmother’s life. The two main characters are well crafted, admirable, and engaging. The flowing text is a complement to Blackall’s exquisite illustrations. The beauty of Asian art and motifs is captured page after page in the gouache illustrations, and the family portrait is chockablock full of individuals. As “red is the color of celebration” in China, Ruby should bring joy to many young readers. A lovely read-aloud with illustrations to linger over.–Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA –Jody McCoy (Reviewed February 1, 2003) (School Library Journal, vol 49, issue 2, p102)


  • Amelia Bloomer Lists – Beginning Readers Fiction: 2003
  • Ezra Jack Keats Awards: Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award
  • Ezra Jack Keats Awards: Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Ages 0-8, Family, Historical Fiction