A Girl Named Faithful Plum: The True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream

Front Cover
Random House Children's Books, 2011 - Juvenile Nonfiction - 270 pages
1 Review

In 1977, when Zhongmei Lei was eleven years old, she learned that the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy was having open auditions. She'd already taken dance lessons, but everyone said a poor country girl would never get into the academy, especially without any connections in the Communist Party of the 1970s. But Zhongmei, whose name means Faithful Plum, persisted, even going on a hunger strike, until her parents agreed to allow her to go. She traveled for three   days and two nights to get to Beijing and eventually beat out 60,000 other girls for one of 12 coveted spots. But getting in was easy compared to staying in, as Zhongmei soon learned. Without those all-important connections she was just a little girl on her own, far away from family. But her determination, talent, and sheer force of will were not something the teachers or other students expected, and soon it was apparent that Zhongmei was not to be underestimated.

Zhongmei became a famous dancer, and founded her own dance company, which made its New York debut when she was in just her late 20s.  InA Girl Named Faithful Plum, her husband and renowned journalist, Richard Bernstein, has written a fascinating account of one girl's struggle to go from the remote farmlands of China to the world's stages, and the lengths she went to in order to follow her dream.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - abbylibrarian - LibraryThing

This is an amazing story of perseverance and dedication to art. Even though it meant three days and two nights of torturous travel on filthy trains crammed with people, eleven-year-old Li Zhongmei was ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LibraryGirl11 - LibraryThing

A fictionalized account of dancer Li Zhongmei's journey from the Chinese backcountry to the world stage,mainly focusing on her entrance into the Beijing Dance Academy and her first year at the school ... Read full review

Selected pages


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19
Section 20
Section 21
Section 22

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 23
Section 24
Section 25
Section 26

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Growing up in the small town of East Haddam, Connecticut, RICHARD BERNSTEIN always dreamed of seeing the world, and after he finished university he figured a great way to do that would be to become a newspaper reporter. So he became a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine and then the New York Times, which sent him all expenses paid!) to lots of countries, including Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, France, Germany, Poland, South Africa, Mozambique, and about 20 others. Along the way, he wrote thousands of newspaper articles and seven books, mostly for grownups. A Girl Named Faithful Plum is his first book for young readers, but he's sure it won't be his last. After moving around for most of his life, Richard settled in Brooklyn, New York, where he lives with his wife, Zhongmei (who is Faithful Plum!), his son, Elias, and their cat, Lucky.

Bibliographic information