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Casey feels lost in Chinatown. She's not prepared for the Chinese school, the noisy crowds, missing her father. But Paw-Paw tells her about the mother Casey never knew, and about...
Casey feels lost in Chinatown. She's not prepared for the Chinese school, the noisy crowds, missing her father. But Paw-Paw tells her about the mother Casey never knew, and about her family's owl charm and her true Chinese name. And Casey at last begins to understand that this -- Paw-Paw's Chinatown home, her parents' home -- is her home,too.
A twelve-year-old girl who knows little about her Chinese heritage is sent to live with her grandmother in San Francisco's Chinatown.
It was hard to understand Barney with the air tubes up his nose. It made his voice sound funny and he couldn't talk very loud. There was a cast on one arm and one leg too and bandages on the others. And his hands were still — that was the worst of it. Barney had long, nervous hands that were usually drumming out a tune or scratching his arm or doing something, but now they were quiet. They didn't seem to belong to him.
I just stood in the doorway because I didn't want to bother Barney if he was about to take a nap. But I didn't like looking at him too much so I looked around the ward. Almost every other patient there had flowers or baskets of fruit or little transistor radios or their own little electric clocks: something that made the space around their bed their own. And most everyone had some visitors with them. Even the oldest guys in there had some friends visiting them. But Barney had nothing and no one, except for me.
"Casey?" Barney's voice sounded muffled and more nasal.
"Hey, Barney." I tried to smile as I walked over to his bed. Someone had taken the visitor's chair that ought to have been by his bedside so I had to stand up. My sweat shirt was the kind that had the pockets in front so you could stick your hands in them to warm up. Barney always said it made me look like a kangaroo in jeans.
"What are you doing here?" Barney asked. "Thought they wouldn't let kids in?"
"Snuck in. I had Morey draw me a map of where your bed was on this floor and then I snuck up the stairs."
"How'd you get past the nurses at the desk?"
"Morey's talking to them. You know howhard it is to get away from old Morey once he grabs hold of you." I pulled the two Peter Paul bars out of my sweat shirt. "Thought your sweet tooth might be bothering you." I glanced at the big fat Whitman's Sampler of chocolate Barney's neighbor had. "Sorry it couldn't be a whole boxful."
"'S all right. Can't eat them anyway. Put them in the drawer, will you?" Barney waved his hand vaguely toward the nightstand.
I opened up the little drawer there and put the two bars in beside the wash cloth and the bar of soap. "It's just as well." I tried to laugh in a relaxed way. "They got a little soft from being in my pockets. They'll cool off this way."
But when I'd finished closing the drawer and turned back to Barney, I saw he was looking at me in this funny way like I'd never seen before, not in all our years together. He looked real sad and scared at the same time. "You ain't too mad at me, are you, baby?"
"Mad?" I asked, surprised. "Why should I be mad?"
"I mean about me losing the money and all."
"The only guys I'm mad at are the guys who beat you up and robbed you when you left the bookie."
Barney turned his face up toward the ceiling. He seemed relieved. "You're not any madder than me. I was already seeing us on that Greyhound ... no, a chauffeured limousine down to San Francisco."
I can't remember when Barney's story began but all my life I'd heard this story about how this little girl and her father were going to hit it big one of these days, either in his gambling or in one of his real-estate deals that one of his drinking buddies was going to get up-Barney was always their bosom buddy till the deal fell through.
And then he'd tell me how he was going to get that big penthouse apartment on Nob Hill over in San Francisco so we could see the fog coming in over the city and then we'd turn around and look across the bay at the lights of Oakland, strung out like a shimmering golden river. And I wouldn't stop buying clothes, toys, comics, and records I wanted till I had filled up that apartment. And then we'd move to another. Somehow Barney never got around to what would happen after we ran out of things to buy and apartments to move into. But maybe that's because his story never really got off the ground.
I guess there used to be a mom, Jeanie by name, in the story too, but she must have dropped out of it quick because she died when I was small. I don't remember her, though I've got a photo of her taken when Barney still had some hair. It was at some party and she was the pretty, smiling girl sitting next to Barney in his army uniform after he got back from World War II. Both of them held up plastic champagne glasses that didn't have champagne in them, only Schlitz.
When we were really desperate for money — usually a week after Barney had to pawn his wedding ring againBarney would take up his hobby, which most other people would call work, until he had paid our bills and re-claimed his ring. In Fresno he was a dishwasher and in Redding he was a waiter — at the Tokyo Palace no less because Redding is a small town short on Orientals and no one read the part of the menu in Japanese much less ordered in it-and in Santa Barbara he was a fry cook at a Big Boy with a chef s hat and a red neckerchief...
Posted August 25, 2003
I had to read this story to for school. Ask me it was horrible. There were just to many boring spots. The chapters would be boring and go on forever. If your thinking of just getting this book...DON'T.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 27, 2013
I was very excited when I found this book, and couldn't believe I had missed his books growing up. It's not the most exciting book to read or the most well written or informative, but
I have to give Laurence Yep credit for stepping forward and being a pioneer in writing about the Chinese American experience to children.
Posted November 24, 2003
Posted December 8, 2003
If you like to read a all family and old chinese series this is the book..very good! this book makes you wanna cry, laugh and sometimes sleep..but thats okay..thats the point of this book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 7, 2003
Posted March 18, 2003
In Yep's book, Child Of The Owl, Casey is finding that Chinatown is very hard and small, but learns to cope with it by the help of friends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2002
Posted March 13, 2002
Posted February 4, 2001
Posted November 22, 2000
I liked this book in the exciting parts. When it slowed down, it seemed to take forever. Even though there were slow parts more often than not, I think the exciting parts were enough to keep me reading. This book is a tale of family values and money problems. It all takes place in Chinatown with an Oriental girl staying with her grandma, or Paw-Paw in Chinese. The girl¿s name is Casey. She is staying with her Paw-Paw because her dad is in the hospital after being beat up because of money. As she stays with her grandma she learns more and more about her past. She gets to go see Chinese movies. Her Paw-Paw tells her the story of why she is the child of the owl. Casey¿s Paw-Paw has a very special charm that the owl sprit gave to the family. One night something horrible happens to the charm and it is up to Casey to solve the problem. If you need an exciting book or a mellow book I would recommend this book to you. If you need an extremely exciting book I wouldn¿t recommend this book to you.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 16, 2000