from most Disney stories about animals in which humans talk through animals
about human plot, ideas, and emotions, The
Daughter of T-rex has birds talking in a human language about the emotions,
ideas, and plot of animals. This novel is about birds, primarily about a hen
called Little Redface: her wish to be left alone by her sisters, her longing
for love and freedom, her desire to fit in, her need for security and survival,
and her dilemma to fight humans or to reconcile. In a word, this is her Bildungsroman.
We see her change and development from a meek chick to a mature hen of jaykens,
a portmanteau word invented in this novel that promises delight in its context.
This is also a picaresque story through which we see Little Redface’s
adventures and the lives of other birds: their love and friendship, pride and
jealousy, molting and brooding, struggle for life and fight for dominance.
our human experiences teem with similar occurrences and conflicts, and so
Little Redface’s story coincide with ours in more ways than one. Therefore,
this novel is not only about birds; especially Little Redface’s questions about
love and freedom, her choices between fight and tolerance, and how humans can
live with nature and other animals harmoniously, these are more of human
contemplation and hesitation. The author, Shuyan Chi, is an immigrant who came
to the states less than nine years ago, and it is not hard to see in Little Redface’s
story her own reflections on the new life in this brave new world.
Shuyan Chi just came to this country, she could not speak English at all
although she was already a published writer in China. She continued to write in
Chinese and won the second prize in the Chinese National Short Story Contest in
2010 while she was diligently learning English here. She is also an animal
lover and has five chickens in her backyard. When she began to write about them
in English, she had doubt about her expressiveness in using the language. “At least, I can tell a good story in simple
English. After all it’s about birds and I don’t need sophisticated words and
syntax.” She convinced herself, and we have a fascinating story matched with
her writing style. I was drawn into this story as soon as I began reading it
and became concerned about the fate of Little Redface. I wanted to know how she
would elope with Jack, how she would survive in the wild, if she would fight
humans… I promise you will, too.