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The Golden Rat
     

The Golden Rat

5.0 4
by Don Wulffson
 

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Since the death of his mother, Baoliu has grown apart from his father and bitterly resents his father's new wife. One night an intruder breaks into the family's home and Baoliu's stepmother is murdered. Baoliu is accused of the crime, convicted, and sentenced to be beheaded-a common practice in twelfth-century China. At the last minute a business arrangement, a kadi,

Overview

Since the death of his mother, Baoliu has grown apart from his father and bitterly resents his father's new wife. One night an intruder breaks into the family's home and Baoliu's stepmother is murdered. Baoliu is accused of the crime, convicted, and sentenced to be beheaded-a common practice in twelfth-century China. At the last minute a business arrangement, a kadi, is made-and another man is paid to die in Baoliu's place. As Baoliu witnesses the execution of his innocent substitute, he vows to clear his name and restore the family's honor.

Critically acclaimed author Don Wulffson follows Baoliu, an outcast of society, willing to do anything and everything, as he struggles to prove his innocence.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Sixteen-year-old Baoliu has grown increasingly disrespectful of his father since his mother died and his father soon thereafter remarried. He can't stand to see the vain and not very bright woman wear his beloved mother's belongings, and even steals some pieces of his mother's jewelry from her to hide away as keepsakes. So the family is quick to judge him guilty on the morning he is found outside his step-mother's bedroom covered in blood while she lies murdered within. In spite of swearing his innocence, he is imprisoned and convicted to die, being saved at the last minute when a substitute is purchased by his father and beheaded in his place. He has shamed and impoverished his family; now his is scorned as a "golden rat" and even beaten by the townspeople as he struggles to survive on his own. Befriended by Zhou, another homeless youth, Bao sets out to find the guilty party; failing that, he seeks the family of the man who died in his place to try and set things right. His inquiries only bring greater trouble and danger, for if he is caught breaking the law again, he will die. Set in 12th century feudal China, this tale of injustice and redemption is full of physical adventure that will engage male readers while provide a glimpse into another time and another culture.
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9
Grieving over his recently deceased mother and unhappy about his father's quick marriage, 16-year-old Baoliu has been difficult at home. One night after a particularly unpleasant scene with his father, he is awakened by a noise. When he investigates, he is knocked down and injured by someone fleeing from the room of his stepmother, who has been murdered. Because he is found near her door covered with blood, his family assumes Baoliu is guilty and he is jailed. Though the teen is condemned to death, his father pays a ka-di to die in his place. Rejected by his family and forced to live on the streets, Baoliu is determined to clear his name, but even with the help of Zhou, another down-on-his-luck boy, this proves difficult. The fast-paced plot unfolds with fights, mysteries, and a flight from authorities; yet in the end, all turns out well for these believable characters. Unfortunately, inaccuracies compromise this otherwise exciting read. Set in China in 1199 AD, the Song Dynasty, when Neo-Confucianism was at its height, the tale doesn't reflect culturally accurate behavior for that period. At the beginning, Baoliu acts like a 20th-century adolescent, not a son held to an exacting standard of filial piety. Furthermore, in The Analects , Confucius clearly states that the misconduct of a son should be concealed by the father. To do otherwise would dishonor the family. Because of this, it is likely that Baoliu's father would have taken immediate steps to hide his son's presumed guilt, and his punishment would have been meted out strictly within the confines of the family. Other minor missteps occur as well.
—Barbara ScottoCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
A sullen teen expresses grief over his mother's death and anger at his father's quick remarriage by slacking off his studies and unloading resentment on his immediate family. However, this familiar story line unfolds in 12th-century China, where the consequences of teen alienation prove severe. When Baoliu's stepmother is murdered, he is falsely accused, quickly tried and sentenced to death. His father pays to have a peasant die in Baoliu's place but disowns his son, believing him to be guilty. Formerly a pampered rich kid, Baoliu is thrown, penniless and despised, into a harshly unforgiving world. Zhou, a streetwise boy, befriends him and together they work to solve the mystery of who the killer was and to clear Baoliu's name. Along the way, Baoliu and readers get more than a taste of the vile living conditions suffered by the peasantry. The gulf between rich and poor and the brutal oppression of those trying to survive at the bottom of the heap are vividly illustrated, but never overpower the exciting, fast-paced adventure story. A good choice for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 11+)
From the Publisher
“With well-researched and meticulously recorded details of life under fire, Wulffson urges readers to look past the outer trappings of the enemy to discover the human being inside the uniform.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review on Soldier X

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619630024
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
01/04/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
176
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Though he also publishes adult works, Don Wulffson has been writing kids books for more than 30 years. Some of his favorites include Soldier X, which received many honors, including a Christopher Award; and The Upside Down Ship, a novel, which was recently abridged and illustrated for the first time. Don lives with his wife, Pam, in Southern California. He writes every day.
Though he also publishes adult works, Don Wulffson has been writing kids books for more than 30 years. Some of his favorites include Soldier X, which received many honors, including a Christopher Award; and  The Upside Down Ship, a novel, which was recently abridged and illustrated for the first time. Don lives with his wife, Pam, in Southern California. He writes every day.

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Golden Rat 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
When sixteen-year-old Bailou's mother died he was devastated, but when his father takes a new wife who wears his mother's jewelry, it's just too much.

Bailou is the second son, and in twelfth-century China, second sons are not very important in the household. And then one night, his step-mother is murdered, and the jewelry stolen. Everyone is sure that Bailou is the murderer and thief. To his horror, Bailou is convicted in court of killing his step-mother and sentenced to be beheaded. On the day he is to be executed, his father purchases another man to be executed in his place, giving Bailou the Golden Rat status.

Wulffson's premise is based on the ancient Chinese custom of Ka-di, where substitutes could be purchased and executed. Bailou watches the man die in his place, and is then turned out in the street to survive however he is able, since his father has also disowned him.

Bailou knows that he is innocent of the murder, and is determined to find the real killer, but surviving in the slums of medieval China is a struggle. He makes an unexpected friendship, and the two boys work on the ship docks, and scrounge whatever they can to survive.

Bailou is a sympathetic and likable character who is haunted by the man that died in his place, and searches for the truth about this man. But when he finds out about him, nothing is quite as it had seemed in this exciting, action-packed story.

Don Wulffson is a master at characterization and his powerful multi-level plot and vivid descriptions take you right to twelfth-century China. This story is a real winner for reluctant teen readers; storytelling at its very best with real emotion, fast-paced action, and a satisfying ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book i liked it alot
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fabulous book! A must read for those who love historical fiction, adventure and a good rousing tale of good vs. evil. The setting of ancient China fires the imagination with all sorts of intrigue and peril.