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Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1993)
Yep illuminates the Chinese immigrant experience here and abroad in a follow-up to The Serpent's Children (1984) and Mountain Light (1985). After accidentally killing one of the hated Manchu soldiers, Otter (14) flees Kwangtung for the "Golden Mountain"; he finds his adoptive father Squeaky and Uncle Foxfire in the Sierra Nevada, where thousands of "Guests" are laboriously carving a path for the railroad. Brutal cold, dangerous work, and a harsh overseer take their toll as Squeaky is blinded in a tunnel accident, Foxfire is lost in a storm, and other workers are frozen or half-starved. By the end, toughened in body and spirit, Otter resolves never to forget them or their sacrifices. Foxfire and Otter consider themselves only temporary residents here, preparing for the more important work of modernizing their own country while ridding it of Manchu, Europeans, and, especially, the scourge of opium. America is a dreamlike place; English dialogue is printed in italics as a tongue foreign to most of the characters; and though Otter befriends the overseer's troubled son, such social contact is discouraged on both sides. In a story enlivened with humor and heroism, Yep pays tribute to the immigrants who played such a vital role in our country's history. Explanatory note; reading list. 1993, HarperCollins, $15.00; PLB $14.89. © 1993 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Betsy Hearne (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December 1993 (Vol. 47, No. 4))
An ambitious sequel to The Serpent's Children (BCCB 3/84) and Mountain Light (11/85), this tracks young Otter from his home in Kwangtung Province, China, to the Sierra Mountain range, where he joins his adoptive father and uncle to build a tunnel through solid rock for the transcontinental railroad. To establish a large cast, two diametrically diverse settings, and events from the years 1865 through 1867 is a tall order for one novel. Yep has succeeded in realizing the primary characters and the irrepressibly dramatic story of what amounted to slave labor for Chinese immigrants at the hands of ruthless bosses. In the process, however, secondary characters are flattened, the sense of time is foreshortened, the action piles up too fast, and explanation of motives sometimes replaces or repeats actual development. One key incident, for instance, involves a musician whose instrument is stolen, whereupon Otter inspires his crew of outcasts to chip in for another because "his music had become part of my life," something that will surprise readers who have only heard about this music once or twice before. The very same morning, the musician's fingers freeze and must be chopped off with a kitchen knife, an explosion blinds Otter's father, and Otter is publicly whipped for defying orders-all of this shortly followed by an avalanche. While such a sequence may very likely have occurred, it has the effect of crowding a work of fiction. Where the pace and focus are controlled, as in Otter and his uncle's scaling a peak to save their snowed-in camp, the writing becomes more credibly layered; and even when the story surfaces to a shallower level, the carefully researched details will move students to thought and discussion about a powerful piece of American history. Ad--Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. (c) Copyright 1993, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1993, HarperCollins, 275p, $14.89 and $15.00. Grades 6-10.
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.Y44 Dqr 1993
0060229713 : $15.00 ($20.00 Can.)|
0060229721 (lib. bdg.)