Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Child's Play Seeks Justice for Author; Sixth-Grader Adds Finale to 'Chinese Cinderella'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Child's Play Seeks Justice for Author; Sixth-Grader Adds Finale to 'Chinese Cinderella'

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN CARTER

Despite a horrendous childhood, the girl came out OK.

Well, more than OK.

She emerged into adulthood as a physician and award-winning writer.

But one Darnell-Cookman Middle School sixth-grader thought Chinese writer Adeline Yen Mah was dealt such a raw deal by her father, stepmother, stepbrother and stepsister that justice needed to be served.

Hannah Bachman, who lives in San Marco, felt so strongly about it she was compelled to write a play in which the wicked stepmother is put on trial. With encouragement from her language arts teacher, Monica Knighton, 12-year-old Hannah and classmates Chris Caroll, Alyssa Lloyd and Rachael Solomon wrote The Trial: Adeline vs. Niang.

The play grew out of a class assignment to read Yen Mah's Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter.

The tale is a memoir in which Yen Mah relates how her powerful, affluent family considered her bad luck after her mother died giving birth to her. It got worse when her father remarried and she and her siblings were subjected to the disdain of her stepmother, Niang, while Niang's own children were spoiled.

"I was really inspired by the way Adeline [Yen Mah] continued to believe in herself despite being abused," Hannah said. "It made me believe in myself, too. But I really wanted to continue the story because I though Niang should be held accountable."

Knighton said she was impressed at the passion and intelligence her students put into the play, which was eventually staged several times for students and faculty.

"It was just an awesome idea, and it came out great," Knighton said. "I think their reading assignment, Chinese Cinderella, just tapped into so many deep emotions they had to explore them further. This book touched them so profoundly, they wrote and produced this play. The whole experience actually changed them -- it was that poignant. …

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