Little Emperors


Short-listed for the 2009 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize

Much has been made about how the New China has become an economic juggernaut in today’s world while civil liberties and basic freedoms remain constricted. We know where the aging leadership has taken and is taking China, but what about the very young? What are they like?

When JoAnn Dionne arrived in Guangzho, she came prepared to live and teach elementary school in a Communist country. She expected to see soldiers in the streets, people in grey Mao suits, and lineups to buy toilet paper. Instead she found the world’s oldest country, throwing itself headlong into the future. She found traffic jams and 24/7 constructions, neon lights and smog, shopping malls and modern high-rises. And then she met the people who would live in that future – her students. Along with crisp insights into Chinese culture as seen through the eyes of a North American, Dionne provides a funny, often poignant glimpse of a nation undergoing rapid transformation.


City of Victoria Butler Book Prize


Immediacy of language and lightness of tone make the memoir readable, fun and vivid while at the same time providing insights into the minds of young Chinese.

In an often humourous way, JoAnn captures what it is like for a North American to explore China.

Lakeshore News (March, 2008)

About the Author

JoAnn Dionne

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

JoAnn Dionne

JoAnn Dionne has lived in Japan, Mexico, China, and more recently, Hong Kong -- her home of five years, where she worked for a time as an editor at Oxford University Press. Little Emperors is her first book. Currently she lives in Victoria, B.C., but she grew up in Salmon Arm in the province's interior.