Circle of Cranes is a story of Suyin, a 13-year old orphan who has a mysterious connection to the cranes in her small Chinese village. When a human smuggler or snakehead arrives promising riches in America, the villagers elect Suyin to go as their benefactress. But instead of riches, she is forced to work in a sweatshop in New York City’s Chinatown. Her future seems hopeless, until her beloved cranes arrive and reveal that she is no ordinary girl and in fact, she is the key to the survival of an ancient crane sisterhood.
(Circle of Cranes) … should interest a wide readership seeking interesting characters, substantive content, and a touch of folklore. Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
Circle of Cranes by Annette LeBox is a story that might not appeal at first glance
― but look again ― this book is a wonderful story. It’s a combination of realistic fiction, mythology and fairytale. … This book is contemporary in setting (the actual events only took place twelve years ago) and the characters are wonderfully created. From the good/bad boy that Suyin falls in love with and her childhood friend Shan-Shan to the evil Lao and Sister Sharktooth, the characters become real people that the readers will either love or despise.
Pamela Kramer, The Chicago Examiner Rating: 5 stars
(Circle of Cranes) has strong curricular value with concise and accessible explorations of labor politics, exploitive economies, and global immigration issues; in addition, the information about heritage crafts and feminine subcultures in China is fascinating. The thread of female solidarity and friendship is a significant appeal factor, giving the book a great deal of warmth, and readers will be gratified that Suyin and her compatriots achieve their dreams despite the odds.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, University of Illinois
Circle of Cranes … shows the reality of today’s working conditions for illegal Chinese immigrants in Chinatown. Annette LeBox also incorporated a magical element that gave the book a fable-like feel. While this novel is written for a middle grade readership, it could be enjoyed by all ages. We definitely recommend Circle of Cranes.
Kidzworld Review, Rating 5 stars
Suyin’s tribulations offer a glimpse into the horrifying world of human trafficking and sweatshops. Her time with the Sisterhood balances the horror of her daily life and gives her strength to help with the garment workers’ strike, which leads to a tidier and happier ending than most children with paths similar to Suyin’s experience. While many elements of the narrative structure and story will appeal to younger readers, the brutality and violence that the girl endures, especially as a friend takes a job at a seedy massage parlor, requires more mature readers.
School Library Journal 5-1,Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD
(Circle of Cranes) is extremely well researched, and is a big eye-opener when it comes to the sweatshops in New York’s Chinatown. … Even though it’s targeted at a middle grade readership, it has a fable-like quality that makes it appeal to readers of all ages.
Goodreads, Nicole Skutelnik, 5 starred review
Perhaps most impressive piece of this story is the presences of strong female role models, and the beautiful use of language, especially ancient proverbs, as they allude to Suyin’s life experiences … There are stories and proverbs hidden in embroidery, an oral retelling of Suyin’s history (both human and crane) and a description of the secret language of women (both written― Nu Shu―and physical in embroidery)… Overall, this is a wonderfully rich book that encourages a rich discussion about language in all forms with the reader. It’s a fantastic read for both middle school and young adult readers; just be warned that some of the descriptions of life under snakehead control may be unpleasant for the more sensitive reader.
Goodreads, Jen, Toronto, Ontario
The language (in Circle of Cranes) is simple, yet compelling. I found I couldn’t put it down and I’m certain mid-grade children (the target audience) will feel the same. The lessons Suyin learns in this story can appeal to any child.
Views from Nature
Circle of Cranes is so much grittier and deeper than I ever expected it to be. I want to learn more about all of the topics and situations LeBox touched on now that the novel’s over, and I love the extra information she’s featured on her blog, as though she knew I’d come looking. …I didn’t realize the book was going to feature such deep issues when I picked it up, thinking it would be mostly about a girl’s journey to becoming a crane sister. It was, but it was so much more, too. The novel is gorgeously written and really gets into the mind of Suyin as she adapts to her new life, betrayed by everyone and forced to continue on in such revolting conditions. The book is well worth reading and will truly open your mind in more ways than one.
A Backwards Story
Circle of Cranes is a beautifully written mix of fable and historical fiction… The author has created a wonderful blend of ancient legend with modern day illegal immigration, connecting the horrors of life in the sweatshops with the beauty of the natural world inhabited by the cranes.
Reviewed by Lost in a Great Book
Based on real human trafficking news, Circle of Cranes is a profound tale that looks at an inconvenient aspect of illegal immigration ignored by those in power except when an incident occurs.
Harriet Klausner, Genre Go Round Reviews