Sea Glass (Golden Mountain Chronicles: 1970)


When Craig Chin's family moves from San Francisco to small-town Concepcion, California, he thinks he'll never fit in. And his father won't stop pushing him to succeed in sports -- a hopeless goal. But his life begins to change when odd old Uncle Quail shows him a secret sea garden.

This new entry in the Golden Mountain Chronicles features the same stunning design as the previous books in the series, including Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate. Award-winning ...

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When Craig Chin's family moves from San Francisco to small-town Concepcion, California, he thinks he'll never fit in. And his father won't stop pushing him to succeed in sports -- a hopeless goal. But his life begins to change when odd old Uncle Quail shows him a secret sea garden.

This new entry in the Golden Mountain Chronicles features the same stunning design as the previous books in the series, including Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate. Award-winning author Laurence Yep has written a highly readable historical novel that hints at the complex experience of the children and grandchildren of the Chinese immigrant generation.

In 1970, after moving from San Francisco to Concepcion, Craig, a Chinese-American eighth-grader, finds it difficult to adjust to the new school and to please his father who wants him to be good in sports.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book
“Totally engaging.”
The Christian Science Monitor
“An engrossing, thoughtful story.”
Children's Literature
This book touches a place in everyone's heart. Craig Chin is a young boy caught between his Chinese heritage and his American life. His conflicting identity does not become a problem until Craig has to move from Chinatown in San Francisco to the almost all-white town of Concepcion. As if the added pressure of fitting in is not enough, Craig's father is constantly pushing him to become more "westernized." He makes Craig promise to do anything to be accepted, such as playing American sports or even pretending to be someone he is not. Craig also has to deal with the fact that he is clumsy, the result of which his classmates commonly refer to him as "Buddha Boy" and the "fat kid." Just at the point where Craig feels he will never fit it anywhere in life, he meets an interesting girl who becomes his best friend, and his Uncle Quail introduces him to a secret sea garden. Craig soon finds out that nothing is worth denying his identity—not even fitting in with the American "norm." With this book, the author does a remarkable job of telling a story with which all readers can identify. Craig turns out to be an endearing character with whom readers will find themselves pulling for by the end of the book—primarily because there is a little piece of Craig in all of us. 2002 (orig. 1979), HarperTrophy,
— Sarah Hammond
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064410038
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Series: Golden Mountain Chronicles Series
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.51 (d)

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

Chapter One

What it is to be a Chinese American (Thief of Hearts).

It has been my privilege to write about seven generations of the Young family and their friends, and how they have transformed the Golden Mountain and been transformed in turn. These books represent my version of Chinese America — in its tears and its laughter, its hungers and its fears, and in all its hopes and dreams.

KO, the forty-ninth hexagram of the Book of Changes

"Superior people shed their skins and transform."


I think when Bradley grows up, he's going to become a tank. Correction: He already is a tank. But maybe when he's eighteen, he'll let the army paint him olive drab and strap a cannon to his nose.


It felt funny to be playing football on this big a stretch of lawn. In Chinatown, up in San Francisco, we had played our games mostly on the tennis court of the playground, or if that was occupied we played on the basketball court. The closest thing we had to a field was a stretch of lawn that was maybe twenty by thirty feet in one of the housing projects in Chinatown. Or if we wanted to walk into North Beach, there was always Washington Square — though sometimes there was trouble with some of the Italian kids.


Italian kids. White kids. Black kids. Kids like Bradley. But the only other Chinese boy down here in Concepcion was my cousin Stanley, who was a year older than me. All the other boys were Americans and bigger than us, though Bradley was the biggest.


When the center snapped the ball, I went straight for Bradley's stomach with my leftshoulder and arm. You'd think that something as big as a sofa pillow would be just as soft, but his stomach felt as hard as the front of a tank. I dug my feet into the dirt and tried to drive forward, but I might just as well have been trying to push a tank back. And then Bradley went from neutral into first gear and I could feel my feet begin to slide back through the grass. And then he shifted into second gear and I almost lost my balance, but I managed to step back in time. I twisted to the side to body block him, remembering to bend my arm over my ribs to protect them while I tried to hit his legs; but by that time Bradley was into high gear and it was like trying to roll against a charging tank. I was just too light and I got knocked onto my back.

Then there was this giant-sized sneaker right over my face. I could see the Keds imprint still on the sole. And for a moment I thought Bradley's size-twelve sneaker was going to be my last sight of the world. I put my hands up and felt Bradley step on my forearms, pushing them against my face.

I rolled over on my stomach and tried to scramble to my feet, which made me just in time to see Bradley grab Jim, the quarterback. Lucky for Jim we were just playing touch football or Bradley would have casually dismantled him. As it was, Bradley just got Jim in a bear hug and shook him around a little.

I got up slowly from the grass with the knees of my pants now a bright shade of green. I felt like quitting right then. Only I told myself that I couldn't let Dad down.

I mean, I'd made this promise to Dad the day after Christmas when we'd moved down here from the City. The three of us had been sitting in the cab of Uncle Lester's old pickup truck. Dad was driving, I was sitting in the middle, and Mom was by the other door. Every now and then she'd twist her head around and poke it out of the window to check on the things we had tied in the back.

Then, once we reached the mountains before Concepcion, all my favorite rock stations on the radio faded away into static. No matter how much I fiddled with the dial, all I could get was this one station that played such great hits as "Ricochet Romance." Finally I just turned off the radio in disgust. "I can't get anything."

"No rock music?" Dad asked. "Good. Maybe your eardrums will get a chance to heal." Rock music was one of the few American things that Dad didn't approve of.

"I like it." I shrugged.

On a straight stretch of the highway, Dad glanced at me. "We're moving in with Western people, you know." Western people was a Chinese term Dad and Mom politely used for white Americans.

"You can't waste the whole day listening to that noise. You got to get out and prove you're just as good as one of them." He adjusted the steering wheel of the pickup truck. "You got to remember one thing, Craig: A Chinese has to try twice as hard as any Western person. You got to study twice as hard. You got to play twice as hard. You got to be twice as friendly. Or you're just some dumb Chinese F.O.B."


"Fresh off the boat," Dad explained.

"But I was born here. So was Mom. And you've lived most of your life here. So did your father."

"That doesn't mean anything. You stand next to some white kid who came here a year ago from Europe and they'll still call the other kid an American and they'll call you the foreigner. They'll only accept you as an American if you can be twice as good as them. Otherwise, you're the stupid Chink who isn't going anyplace."

"I think," Mom said carefully, "that Craig will do just fine."

Sea Glass. Copyright © by Laurence Yep. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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