Dragonwings (Golden Mountain Chronicles: 1903)

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Overview

Moon Shadow is eight years old when he sails from China to join his father, Windrider, in America. Windrider lives in San Francisco and makes his living doing laundry. Father and son have never met.

But Moon Shadow grows to love and respect his father and to believe in his wonderful dream. And Windrider, with Moon Shadow's help, is willing to endure the mockery of the other Chinese, the poverty, the separation form his wife and country - even ...

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Overview

Moon Shadow is eight years old when he sails from China to join his father, Windrider, in America. Windrider lives in San Francisco and makes his living doing laundry. Father and son have never met.

But Moon Shadow grows to love and respect his father and to believe in his wonderful dream. And Windrider, with Moon Shadow's help, is willing to endure the mockery of the other Chinese, the poverty, the separation form his wife and country - even the great earthquake - to make his dream come true.

In the early twentieth century a young Chinese boy joins his father in San Francisco and helps him realize his dream of making a flying machine.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
A triumph.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Laurence Yep's Newbery Honor book (HarperCollins, 1975) offers insights into the lives of Chinese-Americans in early 20th century California. The story begins as eight-year-old Moon Shadow Lee journeys across the Pacific to join his proud and clever father at the family-owned laundry in San Francisco. The boy recounts their problems with prejudice, as well as the kindness of uncles and cousins. Father and son must leave the protection of the family to move out of Chinatown, but they find refuge with a generous and friendly landlady. Once they have successfully established a repair business, they turn their attention to making a flying machine. Though it's a modern invention, part of their motivation is the elder's belief in his own previous dragon existence. Yep draws heavily on his own heritage, but also includes figures such as Teddy Roosevelt and the Wright Brothers, and historic events such as the San Francisco Earthquake. The result is a heartwarming story set in a familiar time and place, but told from a new perspective. The quiet intensity of B. D. Wong's narration enriches the text as he creates memorable voices for a large cast of characters. Wafting, ethereal music signals the end of each side of the cassette, and the cover art is attractive. The only problem is the lightweight cardboard package, which is not sturdy enough for heavy circulation. That shouldn't deter libraries from purchasing this fine recording which will provide upper elementary and middle school listeners with lessons in history, and a gentle reminder of the value of a loving family and loyal friends.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library. Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606008426
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/1977
  • Series: Golden Mountain Chronicles Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Age range: 10 - 14 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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Read an Excerpt

The Land of the Demons
(February—March, 1903)


Ever since I can remember, I had wanted to know about the Land of the Golden Mountain, but my mother had never wanted to talk about it. All I knew was that a few months before I was born, my father had left our home in the Middle Kingdom, or China, as the white demons call it, and traveled over the sea to work in the demon land. There was plenty of money to be made among the demons, but it was also dangerous. My own grandfather had been lynched about thirty years before by a mob of white demons almost the moment he had set foot on their shores.

Mother usually said she was too busy to answer my questions. It was a fact that she was overworked, for Grandmother was too old to help her with the heavy work, and she had to try to do both her own work and Father's on our small farm. The rice had to be grown from seeds, and the seedlings transplanted to the paddies, and the paddies tended and harvested. Besides this, she always had to keep one eye on our very active pig to keep him from rooting in our small vegetable patch. She also had to watch our three chickens, who loved to wander away from our farm.

Any time I brought up the subject of the Golden Mountain, Mother suddenly found something going wrong on our farm. Maybe some seedlings had not been planted into their underwater beds properly, or perhaps our pig was eating the wrong kind of garbage, or maybe one of our chickens was dirtying our doorway. She always had some good excuse for not talking about the Golden Mountain. I knew she was afraid of the place, because every chance we got, she would take me into the small temple in our villageand we would pray for Father's safety, though she would never tell me what she was afraid of. It was a small satisfaction to her that our prayers had worked so far. Mother was never stingy about burning incense for Father.

I was curious about the Land of the Golden Mountain mainly because my father was there. I had, of course, never seen my father. And we could not go to live with him for two reasons. For one thing, the white demons would not let wives join their husbands on the Golden Mountain because they did not want us settling there permanently. And for another thing, our own clans discouraged wives from leaving because it would mean an end to the money the husbands sent home to their families—money which was then spent in the Middle Kingdom. The result was that the wives stayed in the villages, seeing their husbands every five years or so if they were lucky though sometimes there were longer separations, as with Mother and Father.

We had heavy debts to pay off, including the cost of Father's ticket. And Mother and Grandmother had decided to invest the money Father sent to us in buying more land and livestock. At any rate, there was no money to spare for Father's visit back home. But my mother never complained about the hard work or the loneliness. As she said, we were the people of the Tang, by which she meant we were a tough, hardy, patient race. (We did not call ourselves Chinese, but the people of the Tang, after that famous dynasty that had helped settle our area some eleven hundred years ago. It would be the same as if an English demon called himself a man of the Tudors, the dynasty of Henry VIII and of Elizabeth I—though demon names sound so drab compared to ours.)

But sometimes Mother's patience wore thin. It usually happened when we walked over to the small side room in the Temple, where classes were also held. Like many other people, Mother and Grandmother could neither read nor write; but for a small fee, the village schoolmaster would read one of Father's weekly letters to us or write a letter at our dictation. In the evening after dinner, we would join the line of people who had a husband or brothers or sons overseas. There we would wait until it was our turn to go inside the Temple, and Mother would nervously turn the letter over and over again in her hands until Grandmother would tell her she was going to wear out the letter before we could read it.

To tell the truth, I knew as little about my father as I knew about the Land of the Golden Mountain. But Mother made sure that I knew at least one important thing about him: He was a maker of the most marvelous kites. Everyone in the village said he was a master of his craft, and his kites were often treasured by their owners like family heirlooms. As soon as I was big enough to hold the string, Mother took me out to the hill near our village where we could fly one of Father's kites. Just the two of us would go.

But you won't appreciate my father's skill if you think flying a kite—any kind of a kite—is just putting a bunch of paper and sticks up into the air. I remember the first time we went to fly a kite. There was nothing like the thrill when my kite first leaped up out of Mother's hands into the air. Then she showed me how to pull and tug and guide the kite into the winds. And when the winds caught the kite, it shot upward. She told me then how the string in my hand was like a leash and the kite was like a hound that I had sent hunting, to flush a sunbeam or a stray phoenix out of the clouds.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 39 )
Rating Distribution

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(19)

4 Star

(5)

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(5)

2 Star

(5)

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(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2004

    Hey!!!!!!!!!

    I read this book for my 8th grade book report. I am also Chinese. I think that this book was very good and I am reading this book for the 6th time. Every one I know loved this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2009

    terrible

    This book is terrible. I hated it so much. It took me a long time to try to get into it. They swear and there are really grusome parts in the story. I do not recommend this book for childrean that are twelve. I thought this book was absolutly terrible. I think it is the worst book i have ever read. And i have have a lot of books and this one was the worst in history of terrible books. This book should have never been published.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2003

    Great book!

    I think this book is a perfect story for anyone. Yes, it does take some time to get into, but once you do, you can't put it down. It's not very long, because I wish it was. I haven't read the unabridged version yet, but I plan to. An indepth story where you can take a look around, and feel guilty about chastizing someone for their ethnicity. Some ironic twists threw me off-guard, so if you plan on reading Dragonwings, be on your toes!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2003

    Dragonwings Takes Off with the Reader On Board!

    Laurence Yep paints such a vibrant picture of turn-of-the-century San Fransisco that for the few days I was reading this book, I felt as if I was there myself. Dragonwings is told from the eyes of a young Chinese boy, Moon Shadow, who leaves his mother in China to join his father in the United States. The book follows the boy through this strange new land and a journey within himself. Moon Shadow¿s road through the United States is far from paved with gold. He learns to deal with demons and dragons as well as his father and his fellow companymen. Yep¿s fluent use of figurative language makes Moon Shadow¿s story come to life on the page. I could hear the sounds and smell the smells. This book would make an excellent addition to any library, not just young adult. There are some adult themes such as racism and drug dependence so caution should be taken when introducing this to younger adults. With themes such as immigration, aviation and Yep¿s imaginative writing, Dragonwings could be related to many disciplines including the Social Studies, Science and Literature. Yep produces a complete package with this installment of his Golden Mountain Chronicles.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2000

    A fabulous tale.

    I loved the suspense. I was quite glad for them when their 'flying machine' was finished.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 1999

    Dragonwings, a story with a backround...

    Though Dragonwings may only be considered for a 9-12 year old audience but this story can be read, and enjoyed, by people from an assortment of ages. This story is about Chinese laborers who come to San Fransico to make a better life. They come over and have to live in their own section of the town, and weren't able to take part in American jobs. The main characters have to make it through all of their struggles. Through all of this, Windrider, the main character wants to pursue his dream, flying...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    /

    j

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2010

    Not a Great Book . . .

    Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
    Dragonwings is about a young Chinese boy named Moon Shadow who has lived in a small village all of his life. He comes to America and with his father in a Chinatown. The book is shows the hardships that emigrants faced in the early 1900s.
    Moon Shadow and his father, Windrider, get to know each other. They also learn more about other characters like Uncle, Lefty and White Deer. They are the leaders of the company where they all work. Moon shadow learns a lot about hard work. The Chinese stay in their own village and stay away from the "demons", the white people. When Windrider goes to see the dragon king he finds out that in his former life he was a dragon that healed other dragons. He was reborn as a softskin after he decided to show off by trying to blow out the sun. The dragon king says that after Windrider was reborn he still had the power to heal in his hands. Windrider was very talented at fixing machines. The dragon king said he would make Windrider a dragon again if he passed a series of tests in his human life.
    Laurence yep did a good job portraying the hardships that emigrants faced in the early 1900s. Still, it was not the most exciting book I have read. In terms of vocabulary it was easy for me to understand. It does include some violence though, so it wouldn't be good for younger children to read. The book didn't really make me think because it doesn't really relate to my life in any way.
    Overall the book is okay but I really recommend it to younger children or girls. I think it is more the type of book a guy would read. The book did show me more about the San Francisco earthquake and gave a look into how the Chinese emigrants lived.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    DO NOT READ!

    I had to read this in school and i completly HATED it! Well, if you have to read it, don't argue with your teacher but really, this was TERRIBLE! It was really violent and gross. The ending was terrible and the story didn't even come together. Hope this is helpful!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2007

    Your Dreams Will Fly

    Dragonwings by Laurence Yep is an outstanding book. A Cinese boy and his father live and work in America so that the rest of their family in China have enough moneyto live. The boys father has a dream. A dream to fly! The two go to live with a white demoness. whil they are living there a terrible earthquake hits that town. Are the two going to live? Are they going to fly? You will have to read the book to find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2006

    GREAT!

    I love all of the Yep Books, Especially the Land of the GOlden Mountain ones. Dragonwings was a touching story which i can relate to.One of the greatest books alive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2006

    Wow

    okay i can read really quick but it took me such a long time to read this book. I have to admit i fell in love w/ the company. but still it was very boring. I even read 2 books while i was still reading this. some peple are saying that they are being horrible towrads Americans. Calling them demons for almost the whole entire book. I relly don't appreciate it , but you also need to think that this was set during a time where immigrants( our main char.) were not treated right. And their families in their homeland didnt have much contact except a ltter once in a while. overall, i think this book was written well and it was based on a good story. But i also have to say that it was boring and long.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2005

    Dragonwings, a great one to some but not to many others

    As this book is a class novel at my school UNIS, the bulk of the class think of the book as a boring and too descriptive book. I, being Chinese, admit the racist words but saying that it is a true feeling for some Chinese and that it was a feeling of the PAST. Those who read shouldn't take it as a truth but a joke. More to the story, it wouldn't be what someone would expect, being un-needingly specific in detail. Don't be expected to get lost or bored (Unlike us, we were FORCED!!!) but you may try to enjoy it. Not the good type of book for me, and many others I think, even with a boring and obvious twist.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2004

    its alright

    all the 7th graders going to 8th grade have to read this book.so far i bearly finished chapter 1 it is okay.but the problem is that the chapters are to long.an their is alittle bit of raicisim on the the tang people wich are he chinesse people.but its an alright book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2003

    It was awesome!!!

    I felt this book was intresting, and had a very good storyline. Not only, this book had a lot of conflict of famlies,and life itself. I also felt this book was a diary. This book was great and I recommend this to all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2003

    Not Good

    Parents and Children be warned! This book is very racist. Americans are called demons and other names and the Yang people are almost perfect. I did not find the book heartwarming at all. Think twice before buying this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2003

    It was OK

    I felt this book was very dull and at sometimes confusing. It didn't like it much.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2003

    Dragonwings

    Dragonwings is an excellent, well-written story. It portrays the struggles that a boy and his father faced, and it elegantly reflected the message that it is important to dream. The plot captured my heart, and I thoroghly enjoyed this touching, heart-moving story. It must be read my everyone!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2002

    The beauty of dragons

    Although Dragonwings in not a riveting page-turner, especially in the beginning, it is a beautifully written story that provides a thoughtful look into the lives of Chinese-Americans. It is based on the first flight of a Chinese-America in 1909, but since the details of his life are sparse, Yep characterizes this book more as historical fantasy. It is also, however, included in the Asian multi-cultural genre because of the description about the Chinese-Americans in early 20th century San Francisco. Moon Shadow, the main character and narrator, travels across the ocean from China to meet and live with the father he has never met. While in America, Moon Shadow eventually learns how to speak and write English as he helps his father and other relatives in their laundry company. He discovers firsthand the cruelty of prejudice and the importance of family ties in surviving difficult situations. Gradually, as he comes to know and respect his father, he learns of his father¿s dream to fly- to make Dragonwings- because of his belief that he was once a great Dragon healer. This book traces the lives of Moon Shadow and his father as they work to reach their goal¿and make friends with two American ¿demons¿¿while it simultaneously conveys to the American reader the Chinese people¿s sense of loyalty, determined work ethic, and persevering strength. Yep also integrates many Chinese myths or legends (such as their perception of dragons) to give readers a better understanding of an unfamiliar culture. This book is both interesting to read and important as a multi-cultural novel for young adults. I recommend it to anyone who has ever aspired to do something that everyone else said was unattainable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2002

    A great book

    Laurence Yep provides a twist of history and suspense in this novel. Eight year old Moon Shadow sails from China to join his father in America. Moon Shadow leaves his mother and grandmother behind to meet his father, Windrider, for the first time. Moon Shadow immediately grew close to his father and supports his father's courageous dream. Windrider sacrifices many of the amenities of life to pursue his dream of creating a "flying machine". During the trials of their newly created relationship, they were also consistently facing obstacles created by their fellow Chinamen. Windriders dedication is extremely inspirational. This historical novel leads the reader through a great experience. The dialogue represents realistic and precise conversations that a father and son would have. The language of the book has a smooth and clear flow . Yep also creates suspension of disbelief throughout the book. This book would provide a great tool for teachers to use in the classroom. It provides great opportunities to introduce an array of different topics. Some of these topics include immigration, aviation, and the effects of earthquakes. This novel is a pleasure to read.

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