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“A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.”
Summary: Gim Lew Yep is 10 years old and lives in China. It is 1922 and his father has returned from America to prepare Gim Lew for life in the new world. This is not going to be easy. Gim Lew is left handed and stutters when excited or afraid. If Gim Lew cannot pass the rigorous tests given to all immigrants, he will be sent back to China. Gim Lew’s father and friends tutored him Lew on the passage from China to California. The future of Gim Lew’s family, in China and America, hangs in the balance. This is a middle-grade chapter book about a young boy's emigration from China to America.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 8 to 13
Reading Level: 4.4
Age of Child: Reviewed by a student at North Junior High School, St. Cloud, MN, as part of the Use Your ABCs program.
Young Reader Reaction: I picked this book. It caught my eye and it looked very intriguing. I starte enjoying the book from chapter one. I got hooked on the book and wanted to keep reading it. It was fun to learn about Gim Lew's struggling life and how hard it was to live in China.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a well-done story. Although this book focuses on Chinese immigration to America, it recounts how hard, painful, and complex the immigration process is and how vulnerable to the whims of bureaucracy are those seeking a new life in a new country.
Pros: Even though this story is set 1922, it has relevance today as it recounts the effort, danger, courage, and heartbreak that immigrants experience as they try to provide a better life for themselves and their children. Student reviewer: It is about real life, which is pretty cool to me.
Cons: None. Student reviewer: If you don't pay much attention to the book, you could get lost.
Borrow or Buy: Buy! This is a powerful story with solid characters and a strong plot. The immigration and cross-generational themes, as well as the historical context, create a wonderful mosaic. Student reviewer: Borrow. It is a good book, but I wouldn't buy it because I wouldn't read it again.
Educational Themes: This story focuses on the immigration of Chinese citizens to California in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The purpose for immigration, then and now, is to earn money to send back home for the family. This story provides insight of the process from an immigrant’s point of view.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 5.9. The publisher donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.
Literary Categories: Fiction - family, historical fiction, multicultural, 1920s, cultures and tradition, middle grade series