Award-Winning Memoir


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As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder is available with color or black and white illustrations.

…the best account of being a foreign teacher in China I know.” Dr. Robert D. Richardson, Jr.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author paints a vivid picture of the China in the 1980’s. It is a candid tale filled with dramatic images and unique experiences and it draws stark comparisons between their world and ours. The writing style is almost lyrical and I could not put the book down.” IndieBRAG Medallion judge

This work gives a superb view of where China has come from in just three generations. I’ve been studying China since 1965 (including communications with Rewy Alley and Edgar Snow) and nothing has given me so vivid a hands-on view of the struggles of every-day life there that lasted even as late as 1982. With honesty, simplicity and tolerance born of great love for China, Martha Kennedy provides a wide ranging account that brings into high relief the transformation China has accomplished.” IndieBRAG Medallion judge

This is a delightful story of someone telling us about their life abroad. I really liked the way the author didn’t offer an opinion on all things Chinese but stayed with her experiences. That made the story real to me. The things she focused on were compelling and made the book a joy to read. The cover made sense but I didn’t get the title until about 80% through the book. I enjoyed the book and think many others would.” IndieBRAG Medallion judge


About As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder: Some time ago, reading the posts on one of the blogs I follow, I saw photos of my “Chinese hometown” — Guangzhou. An Indian businessman was writing about sightseeing during a business trip in Guangzhou. He mentioned that he wished he knew what the city was like before modernization. I wanted to tell him. That inspired me, finally, to scan the hundreds of 35 mm slides my ex-husband and I took that year. Many had faded out of recognition. Others had shifted on the color spectrum to Warholian silkscreens, but the rest were clear, evocative of the year that defined me as a teacher and as a person. 

From that came As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder. It’s an anecdotal look at my experiences as a Foreign Expert in English at South China Teacher’s University in Guangzhou (Canton). 

In 1982, even in a city historically as cosmopolitan as Guangzhou, there was only a handful of non-Asian foreigners. China had been “open” for only a short time, and even then the “openness” was relative. My blogging pal’s photos showed me the “after” pictures to my “before” photographs. I was struck most by his photos of the “Pearl River New Town” with its shops, malls, museums, elaborate communal squares, parks. That was where I lived, and in 1982 it was farms and villages. Riding my bike into the city from the village where my university was located I rode on the bed of what would become a major freeway. Such an eventuality was so far from the day-to-day reality in which I lived, that I couldn’t imagine the modernization in which, in truth, I had a part.


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A Modern Day Emerson — “As I read the pages of this beautiful memoir, I found myself becoming lost in the beauty of the mountain trails. The author espouses wisdom as she takes us on her soulful journey through life and love, passion and purpose, all in the company of her steadfast friends — her canine companions. A must-read for anyone who can appreciate a well-told story of a life well-lived!”

“This is a book to savor.”

More reviews…

About My Everest: Back in the 1980s, I moved to California from Colorado without really wanting to. Soon I found work I loved and ended up staying for more than thirty years. I always missed the Rocky Mountains. Many of these stories are set in several thousand acres of coastal sage and chaparral. The landscape was one of the few remaining places of untouched landscape so close to San Diego. About thirty miles east of the city are “real” mountains where snow falls a few times every winter. I trekked those trails as often as I could. My companions were usually one or more of my dogs, but sometimes there were human friends who went along with me.  Now I am back in Colorado. Every day I have the chance to get out somewhere, I see and feel again how much I learned on the dusty trails of Southern California’s chaparral hills and the higher mountains beyond. 


Books are available from Amazon or by contacting me directly. There are many reviews on Amazon as well.


© All work written on this blog that is not quoted from other sources has been done by me and as such is my property. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martha Kennedy with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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