Published in 1963, this children’s book tells the tale of a Tibetan child who stands up against Tibetan men that would oppress him for seeking to education. Thanks to the teachings of the community party that he learned as one of the young pioneers of China. The men try to stop Danzhu from receiving education and to convince him that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are bad. Danzhu gets into trouble when he stands up for himself, his right to an education, the CCP and the PLA, but in the end he is saved by members of the PLA that come to his rescue and who carries the injured, half-conscious Danzhu to see a doctor. Shortly thereafter Danzhu is reunited with his grandmother.
The red scarf in the title of this book is in reference to that worn by the title character, Danzhu, and which is the uniform for a child who is a member of the Youth Pioneers of China, a group of children that are seen as on track to become members of the communist party. Many children will join the Young Pioneers even if they do not have any ambitions for joining the party as it as a very acceptable thing to do. The characters for Danzhu’s name are probably deliberately chosen with his position as a member of the Young Pioneers in mind as Dan, is a flaming red, which can be associated very easily with the scarf, the flag, bravery, communist spirit and the zhu can mean a bead, pearl, or medicinal pellet, thus it’s almost like the children are getting a dose of communism or the communist spirit.