Spring Pearl: The Last Flower

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Overview

After the deaths of her parents, 12-year-old Chou Spring Pearl is taken into the home of her father's wealthy benefactor. Unlike most Cantonese girls, Spring Pearl has learned to read and write, but she must now learn a new skill-how to survive in Master Sung's hostile household. While the Second Opium War rages in the streets and harbor of Canton, Spring Pearl faces battles of her own.

Laurence Yep has published almost 60 books, including science fiction and children's ...

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Overview

After the deaths of her parents, 12-year-old Chou Spring Pearl is taken into the home of her father's wealthy benefactor. Unlike most Cantonese girls, Spring Pearl has learned to read and write, but she must now learn a new skill-how to survive in Master Sung's hostile household. While the Second Opium War rages in the streets and harbor of Canton, Spring Pearl faces battles of her own.

Laurence Yep has published almost 60 books, including science fiction and children's stories. Among his many prize-winning books are Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate, both Newbery Medal Honor Books. Other titles include Child of the Owl, Angelfish, Star Fisher, and Later Gator.

Called boyish by her new family for being able to read and write, twelve-year-old, orphaned Spring Pearl's "odd ways" help save the family during the 1857 Opium War in Canton, China.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Part of the Girls of Many Lands series, this colorful novel introduces the spirited 12-year-old Chou Spring Pearl against the backdrop of Canton, China, during the Opium War of 1857. The recently orphaned girl has been liberally raised by her artist parents she can read and write and speak English but now she's a charity case, taken in by Master Sung, a wealthy friend of her father's. Life with Sung's arrogant wife and daughters (who call her "Miss Ratty" after her poor ghetto neighborhood) starts off rocky, but Spring Pearl rises to the challenge through strength of character, gradually earning the respect of the entire household. When Master Sung is arrested and imprisoned, Spring Pearl's courage and ingenuity help bring the family safely through the ordeal. Spring Pearl has a bit of both Cinderella (she's assigned menial chores at first) and Mary Lenox (she restores the Sungs' neglected garden), but she emerges a fully realized character. Offering his typically lively dialogue and strong supporting cast, Yep (Dragon's Gate) also integrates period detail into a well-honed plot. A "Then and Now" afterword draws on Yep's story to contrast conditions facing girls in 19th- century China with those today. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Spring Pearl is orphaned at age 12 after her mother dies of poverty and overwork. Because her father was a scholar and an artist, his patron, Master Sung, takes her in. She is not welcomed by his wife or daughters, but she endures. At her new home, she intimidates her hosts by speaking knowledgeably on scholarly topics and defeating the eldest son at chess and dominoes. In fact, her ability to read, write, and speak English is quite staggering. Nevertheless, this is 1857 in Canton, and the Chinese are struggling in the Opium War against Great Britain and France. When Master Sung is imprisoned for protesting extra taxes, Spring Pearl is the only one who can save him. Her good deeds win over Mistress Sung, who entrusts her with running the household. Amazingly, the child has friends among the British invaders and the looting Chinese thugs, and saves the Sung family at every turn. They open their arms to her as family, but she chooses freedom. Girls craving adventurous heroines will be drawn to the story, but it leans more toward historical fantasy than fiction.-Be Astengo, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584855194
  • Publisher: American Girl Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2002
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 3, 2010

    Pretty Good.

    Chou Spring Pearl's mother and father have passed away, and she moves out of the Rat's Nest into a very rich friend of her father, Master Sung. When she meets the family, she finds that they are vicious and mean, judging by looks and obsessed with traditions and properness. The one way she keeps herself together is by working in the Sung's garden, which hadn't been tended to in a very long time. As all of this is going on, we learn about real history also. As British and French soldiers invade the city of Canton, Spring Pearl starts to learn new things about this family. This book is great for children or adults, and the whole purpose is not only to entertain, but to also inform about times in China in 1857.

    When Spring Pearl meets this new family, they are very cruel. They treat her more like a maid than a guest, and try to force upon her chores she does not like to do. All, except for Master Sung, at the beginning, do not enjoy Spring Pearl's sudden company. They try to teach her the ways of acting like a rich girl, but cannot succeed. She is way too hooked to the ways of a "Rat's Life", as it is described in the book. She meets a servant named Doggy, and becomes very close to him. The daughters of the Sungs call Spring Pearl names, such as "Mrs. Weed", because she works in the garden. After a while though, they learn to relate to her, and apologize for their actions. When Master Sung got imprisoned, it was Spring Pearl and Doggy who always brought back the news from Master Sung to the Sung family. During this whole process, the Sung family is getting closer and closer to Spring Pearl. They are awoken again by British and French bombing, and Spring Pearl is the one, accompanied by Doggy, who goes out in investigation. They find out that they must save themselves from the British and French soldiers. Finally, Master Sung is released, and the family reunites. As thieves come in and fight the family, Spring Pearl recognizes one of the voices, and persuades them to stay back. She ends up saving the Sung family, and they honor her greatly. On top of everything, Doggy decides to leave the mansion and follows his dreams of opening up a business with his uncle. He asks Spring Pearl if she would be an interpreter. She is pulled from both ways, and is not exactly sure what to do. However, she does pick the right choice for her future.

    In my opinion, this was a pretty good book. It wasn't my favorite; however, I did enjoy it. I do wish that it had more action in it, though. From a book about war, cruelty and death, I expected a lot more to happen. But then again, it was very entertaining. Compared to other books from the same genre, it was pretty good.

    Spring Pearl: the Last Flower taught me a lot about Chinese culture. There were facts that I had never known about before. I learned about what people probably went through during the mid 1800's in China. Spring Pearl also taught me about patience-she has this valuable characteristic that not many have. Everyone thought she was worthless, but she proved them wrong.

    Many times in the book, Spring Pearl's strong educational knowledge gets her out of trouble. She is strong, independent, and always knows what's she's doing. This book will make you feel like you are right there in China with all the characters during the Opium Wars. Spring Pearl is not a book for everyone, though, but I highly recommend it to girls who like books about brave young women. This story really brought out th

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2004

    Excellent!!!!!

    This book was excellent! It was about a 12 year old girl who is a orphan and a family takes her in but they are cruel to her. Spring Pearl goes through many trials but she faces them bravely and in the end gets a reward.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2004

    The Most Grand

    This book was an adventure right from the start. Even though her mother and father sadly die leaving her alone, she finds a way to make it through with her new family. I thought it was beautifully written. The way yep wrote it, it was like being there, watching it all happen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2003

    However...

    The book itself was exceptional, telling that well-known story of a poor orphan trying to make her way through life (sniffle-sniffle). But the author really did make the story come to life-at least for a little while. In the beginning and middle parts of the book, she used the word 'however' reasoably enough. However...Towards the end of the book, there were enough 'however's to bore me to death! There was at least one 'however to every paragragh! I was glad when it was finished, and disappointed that such a good book was ruined by 'However'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2003

    A Beautifully Crafted Story

    Spring Pearl's artistic parents die, leaving her at the mercy of her father's rich friend, Master Sung. At first, she isn't accepted, due to her strange talents (gardening, reading, writing, speaks engilsh) and her poor background (she is soon called both Miss Ratty and Miss Weed), but as time passes and the British attack, she becomes a valuable member of the Sung family and household. In the end, Spring Pearl is given a choice-a new family she has come to love or financial success what with more and more British merchants. What she chooses is for you to find out. This is a story of work, bad sewing skills and good ones, love, being different, history, and finding your place. As Mistress Sung says, 'A weed is a plant who hasn't found it's home yet.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    Wonderful

    I loved this book! I loved how the Sung family was so cruel in the beginning but accepted Spring Pearl in the end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2002

    I LOVE IT!!!

    This is SUCH A GOOD BOOK!! I loved how Yep portrayed Spring Pearl. I just loved every aspect of the book. It really makes you think of how it would be to grow up in Canton in the 1800's. Definitley a must-read.

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