Name of Book: The Dragon’s Child: A Story of Angel Island
Author: Laurence Yep
Publisher: Harper Collins
Audience: Ages 9-12
Summary: In 1922, 10 yr old Gim must leave China and go to America with his father who he has not seen for many years and is a stranger to him. He wants to please him but is left handed and stutters and is afraid he will fail the stringent test he must take when he reaches America. This short novel, based on interviews with his grandfather, the real Gim, Yep captures the experience of a young boy trying to please his father while wondering if he will ever become an American.
Literary elements at work in the story: The unique format of question/answer gives the story an immediacy that is compelling and heartwarming. The plot is well developed and true to the time period. The character of Gim is particularly well developed.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story: Yep raises many issues about both Chinese immigration and the immigrant experience in general. By using personal family interviews and historical notes Yep brings an authenticity not often found in historical fiction.
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-21
Theology: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…” “…hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” These words could have been written for Gem or any other immigrant. Gim and his fellow countrymen came to America for many different reasons, but the one thing they all had in common was that this new land would be a place they would have to strive hard to hold on to the good and reject the evil. At first, Gim has a hard seeing any good in what is happening to him. He is taken from the land and family he loves to please a father he does not know but is desperate to please. His spirit comes close to being crushed. It isn’t easy, the task he has been given, but he knows he must not give in, he must succeed. It is hard in the middle of conflict to heed the words from this passage. But like Gim, we have no choice. We must succeed, not for honor’s sake, but for the sake of our souls.
Faith Talk Questions:
- How would you feel if you were asked to go somewhere where you knew no one?
- Would you go as Gim did?
- Could you pass a test about your town as Gim did? For example, could you name the closest river or mountain to your town.
- Why did the writer of Thessalonians tell his readers to “Rejoice always…” and “….give thanks in all circumstances”?
- Have you ever been asked to do something you did not want to do but knew you had to do?
- Do you think you could do as the writer of Thessalonians asks? If not, how do you think you could get to the place where you could rejoice and give thanks no matter what was happening or what was being asked of you?
Review prepared by regular contributor Janet Lloyd
Dragon’s Child by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.