Dragons of Silk

Dragons of Silk

by Laurence Yep
     
 

The Weaving Maid wove robes of silk for Heaven, but when she met the Cowboy, she abandoned her loom to be with him. But Heaven would not allow this, and put the Milky Way in between them.

Silk binds the lives of four girls from different generations with the fate of the Weaving Maid. Across a span of seventy-five years both in China and America, each girl shows

Overview

The Weaving Maid wove robes of silk for Heaven, but when she met the Cowboy, she abandoned her loom to be with him. But Heaven would not allow this, and put the Milky Way in between them.

Silk binds the lives of four girls from different generations with the fate of the Weaving Maid. Across a span of seventy-five years both in China and America, each girl shows the strength and courage of a dragon as she fights and sacrifices for the survival of her family and the pursuit of passion.

In this masterfully woven conclusion to the series that includes two Newbery Honor Books, Dragonwings and Dragon’s Gate, award-winning author Laurence Yep brings the acclaimed Golden Mountain Chronicles full circle and pays tribute to the love of family, art, and heritage.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
In this conclusion of Yep's "Golden Mountain Chronicles," he follows four young girls and the role that China's silk plays in their lives. The historical fiction follows the girls of one family who begin caring for silkworms on a family farm and ends in San Francisco, where generations later their relative is known for her designs and impact on fashion. Though the sections could be read as short stories, the theme of silk thread and the Chinese myth of the Weaving Maid keep them neatly tied together. Yep is masterful in creating the historical China and its reliance on the silkworm. The role of industrialization is explored in the second story as factories gradually take the work of individual weavers and violence erupts. In the later sections, the role of silk is seen in the fashions that employ it, as a way to draw from the old and create something new. Younger middle school readers may have trouble keeping the characters straight; the names of the original sisters are handed down from generation to generation as a way to honor and remember the ancestors. The financial difficulties of the family are also passed down, forcing each relative to rely on inner strength to survive. Swallow, one of the two original sisters, must sell herself into slavery to save the family's silk farm and subsequent generations step into sweatshops to make sure that her sacrifice is not in vain. The stories provide creatively crafted insight into the culture of China and the role of women within their history. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—This final installment in the series tells the tale of three generations. The connections they have are more than blood-relation ties. They are also bonded together by their affinity for silk. Based on Chinese mythology, which is also rich with silk, the family's story is presented in varying first-person accounts in a five-part process. Generations are represented from the years 1835, 1881, 1932, 1962, and 2011. Throughout these parts, readers see the changing dynamic of the silk industry, from the days when the silkworms were grown and cultivated in China in one's own home to the age of industry, when factories and sweatshops line the streets in and around San Francisco's Chinatown. Changes are noted also in the way the family functions; in the 1800s, the relatives do what is necessary to help one another. In the 1962 to 2011 accounts, the women push youngsters to reach for their dreams rather than settling for the norm. The result is a success story that encourages belief in self and encouragement to strive for a goal. This story not only provides readers with a brief history of China and Chinese immigration, but also gives them a boost of confidence to reach for the stars when all they might see is impossibility.—Kathryn Kennedy, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Kirkus Reviews

Silk, an ancient legend and family history tie several generations of formidable females together over three centuries in this conclusion to Yep's monumental Golden Mountain Chronicles.

Beginning in 1835 and ending in 2011, the novel artfully weaves a tapestry made up of threads of silk production, Chinese history and folklore and immigrants' eventual success in America, the "Golden Mountain." Yep traces girls and women through to their modern descendants, who bear the collective memories of ancestors, each of whom had to make a heart-wrenching, life-changing sacrifice in her own time. Readers will learn about the lovely Chinese legend of the celestial "Weaving Maid" and her sisters (the star cluster Pleiades) and the annual festival held in their honor. They'll also learn a great deal about silkworm cultivation and how the lustrous cloth was once produced by hand. Yep doesn't shy away from some harsh historical truths: the pervasiveness of opium addiction, bloody battles erupting between silk-factory owners and independent weavers andsevere exclusion laws. The earlier chapters, while slowly paced, are more interesting, as Yep deftly conjures the culture and spirit of long-ago China; the modern-day chapters fare less well, with rather clichéd characters. Overall, however, the author captures the world of women well, and lush silk is a prominent backdrop.

An interesting glimpse into a little-known aspect of Chinese history and culture and a fitting conclusion to an epic series that began in 1975 with the Newbery Honor–winning Dragonwings. (preface, afterword, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060275181
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/13/2011
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
427,484
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile:
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Laurence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.

Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.

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