Genre: Children Published: 1959 Date read: 1960, and a few times since Great little book with four traditional Chinese stories. The Dragon King is about the consequences of disobedience—the Dragon King makes it rain at the wrong time and place and is punished. The Sacred Ric e is another consequences story—stolen rice turns to stones in the robbers’ stomachs. The Chess Players is a story of gods messing with human lives, and The Wandering Sta r is about estranged lovers who may only meet once a year by crossing the Magpie Bridge in the heavens. Very tragic and romantic. I loved these stories as a child. I loved the illustrations and the strong moral messages, and the cultural strangeness for a little girl in a sheltered life in Australia. Later in life, partly because of this book, I spent years trying to learn Chinese. I didn’t really succeed, but I’m glad I tried. These stories are culturally important too. The Magpie Bridge is the name given to a Chinese communicat
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Genre: Crime Published: 2003 Series: Phryne Fisher Read: December 2017 In 1920s Australia, the gold rush days of the 1850s seem far in the past, but two mysteries from the Castlemaine goldfields come back to threaten amateur sleuth Phryne Fisher and her lover Lin Chung. Phryne’s mystery relates to a lost heir and a great inheritance. Lin Chung’s comes from a family feud, goldfield riots, and lost gold, and is far more interesting. There were riots at Castlemaine in 1854; many Chinese lives were saved through the bravery of Senior Constable Thomas Cooke, see memorial here. At Lambing Flat (now Young) in New South Wales, there were disgraceful riots and Chinese deaths in 1861, although many people were given refuge by a local landowner, James Roberts. There is an interesting recent essay about this by Gabrielle Chan, Race and the Golden Age [paywall, Meanjin magazine]. Threads of racism, and of courage in confronting it, continue in Australia today.