'This is your one chance. You have your secret dreams. Follow
them! Make them come true!'
A moving and inspirational story based on the author's life that delights the young and the old, again and again.
Li Cunxin (Author)
Li Cunxin was born in 1961 in the New Village, Li Commune, near the city of Qingdao on the coast of north-east China. The sixth of seven sons in a poor rural family, Li's peasant life in Chairman Mao's communist China changed dramatically when, at the age of eleven, he was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural advisers to become a student at the Beijing Dance Academy. After a summer school in America, for which he was one of only two students chosen, he defected to the West and became a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet.
Li went on to become one of the best male dancers in the world. He is now a senior manager in a major stockbroking firm and lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife Mary and their three children, Sophie, Tom and Bridie.
Li's autobiography, Mao's Last Dancer, has received numerous accolades including the Australian Book of the Year Award and has been published around the world. The children's version won the Australian Publishers Association's Book of the Year for Younger Children and the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards Children's Book Award.
Mao's Last Dancer was adapted into a 2009 feature film of the same name by director Bruce Beresford and writer Jan Sardi.
Anne Spudvilas (Illustrator)
Anne Spudvilas is one of Australia's foremost picture book illustrators and is an established artist. She divides her time between commissioned portraits, her work as a courtroom artist, and her award-winning illustrations for children's books.
Her first picture book, The Race by Christobel Mattingley, won the Crichton Award for Illustration and was an Honour Book in the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Awards in 1996. Anne has produced many award-winning picture books, including Jenny Angel by Margaret Wild, winner of the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award, 2000, and Woolvs in the Sitee by Margaret Wild, shortlisted for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award, 2007 and joint winner in the Children's Short Story category of the 2006 Aurealis Awards.
Anne also illustrated The Peasant Prince, the picture book based on Li Cunxin's international best-selling autobiography Mao's Last Dancer - now a hugely successful motion picture. Anne rtravelled to China with Li to visit his home town of Qingdao and to meet his family, gathering valuable background material for the book.
She has illustrated several chapter books in the Aussie Nibbles and Aussie Bites series and more recently collaborated with Isobelle Carmody to produce the beautiful and haunting The Night School.