Monday, February 24, 2014

[BOOK REVIEW] Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie

Title:  Yeh-Shen:  A Cinderella Story from China

Author:  Ai-Ling Louie

Artist:  Ed Young

Genre: Folktale / China / Friendship

Year Published: 1982

Year Read:  2014

Publisher: Philomel Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 6+ (Death)

I have read many different interpretations of the classic “Cinderella” story.  But imagine my delight when I find out that there was a “Cinderella” story that comes from China called “Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China,” which was retold by Ai-Ling Louie along with illustrations by Ed Young and man, was it one brilliant story to read!

A long time ago in China, there lived a young and beautiful girl named Yeh-Shen, whose mother had died when she was a baby.  Unfortunately, her stepmother and her stepsister treated Yeh-Shen as poorly as they envied her beauty and they made her do all the housework.  The only friend that Yeh-Shen had was a fish that she caught in the pond as the fish would give her anything she wanted. Unfortunately, the stepmother ended up killing and eating the fish after she discovered the fish’s secret and Yeh-Shen was left with no friend.  However, the spirit of the fish continued to live on through its bones and it continued to help Yeh-Shen, despite having died at the hands of the stepmother.  One day, the Spring Festival came to town and the stepmother and the stepsister went to the festival without Yeh-Shen.  However, the spirit of the fish continued to help Yeh-Shen by giving her a beautiful gown to wear and Yeh-Shen went to the festival.

Will Yeh-Shen be discovered and will she finally find her happily ever after?

Read this book to find out!

Wow! This book was truly amazing!  I loved the way that Ai-Ling Louie retold this ancient Chinese version of the classic “Cinderella” story, as the story feels so exotic with the Chinese setting and the characters were written truly well.  I also loved the fact that in this version of the story, the “Cinderella” of this story, which is Yeh-Shen, has a pet companion in the form of a fish that grants Yeh-Shen’s greatest desires, even after death, which I found to be truly creepy and yet interesting at the same time!  Ed Young’s illustrations were truly beautiful and creative at the same time!  I loved the way that Ed Young illustrated the events of the story through various shapes of fish, such as having the characters’ hats represent the eyes of the fish and have the characters be drawn inside the shape of the fish.

Parents should know that the ending might be a bit disturbing for smaller children since it seemed to happen so unexpectedly.  I will not say what exactly happened at the end, but let us just say that someone dies a gruesome death at the end and it was extremely jarring to see after the tone of the book had been mainly heartwarming for the most part.

Overall, “Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China” is a brilliant retelling of the classic “Cinderella” story and will be a huge favorite among fans of Chinese folktales and different retellings of “Cinderella.”  I would recommend this book to children ages six and up due to the length of this book and the ending might disturb smaller children.


  1. Ed Young is one of my favorite illustrators and this book is a gorgeous example of his work.

    1. Yeah! The artwork is so beautiful in this book! I also loved his artwork in Lon Po Po.