Young Fu of the upper Yangtze

by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis

Other authorsWilliam Low (Illustrator)
Paper Book, 2007



Call number

Fic Lew

Call number

Fic Lew

Local notes

Fic Lew



New York : Henry Holt, 2007.


In the 1920's a Chinese youth from the country comes to Chungking with his mother where the bustling city offers adventure and his apprenticeship to a coppersmith brings good fortune.


Original publication date


Physical description

xii, 302 p.; 22 cm





Media reviews

I found the characters in Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze rather uninspired. Downright boring, in fact. I kept waiting for Young Fu to do something exciting, but even his minor transgressions were disappointing to me

User reviews

LibraryThing member SHARONTHEIL
Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze is a Young Adult historic fiction novel, a vivid and well-presented story of China during the dark and dangerous 1920's after the death of empress Tzu Hsi and before the Communist revolution. After his father's death, Young Fu and his mother Fu Be Be move from a small village to the big city of Chungking in central China . He works as an apprentice to Tang the coppersmith. Through Young Fu we come to know the people and culture of China; their life of hardship and poverty; their dedication to their family and honor for their elders; and their great respect for education. The introduction to this book is written by Pearl S. Buck with a forward by Katherine Paterson, both serving as an introduction to young adults (and their parents) to the ancient and magnificent culture of China.… (more)
LibraryThing member debnance
Fu leaves the country and heads to the city to serve as an apprentice to a coppersmith for seven years. Being in the city is a new experience for him. He must learn how to deal with the cruel remarks of his fellow apprentices and how to handle money, to stop thieves and to avoid those who would take advantage of him in the market.… (more)
LibraryThing member mwittkids
Might be described as a rags-to-riches story. Young Fu is a country boy who is apprenticed to a master coppersmith during the turbulent 1920's China.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
I really enjoyed this look at life in the Chinese city Chungking at the turn of the century. Watching Young Fu come of age was enjoyable and his experiences and life are interesting in terms of Chinese culture. It is clear that Ms. Lewis loved China and the people she came to know.
LibraryThing member auntieknickers
I remember reading this book as a child, when most Americans believed they would never be able to see China. The picture of another way of life and of the stirrings of change in this ancient country fascinated me. Later I read it to my eldest child; his first trip outside the US, except for brief drives through Canada, was to China. I suppose that even in 1939 this was a historical novel; it's either this one or Lewis's other book, [b:Ho-Ming Girl of New China] that references the Boxer Rebellion, if I remember correctly. I would still recommend it as a good story and a picture of a vanished time and place.… (more)
LibraryThing member klburnside
This 1933 Newbery winner is the story of Young Fu, a Chinese boy from the country who moves to the big city with his mother in the 1920s to begin an apprenticeship with a coppersmith. Unaccustomed to the ways of city life, he has many adventures as he navigates this new world.

On a positive note, it seemed that this book did a good job capturing what life was like amid the soldiers, bandits, and political turmoil of 1920s China. I don't know why I say this, as I know little about this time period, somehow it just felt authentic. Attitudes towards foreigners, inequalities between rich and poor, and the struggles of daily life were addressed. It is important to introduce kids to other cultures, so I appreciate this book for that reason.

However, I did not find the book to be very engaging. When I was in grade school, I remember learning about plot structure with that little chart with the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the denouement. (I had to look up how to spell that last one, I never did learn.) What I have found interesting is that in many of the early Newbery winners, instead of this being the structure of the whole book, it seems like there are a lot of little mini-plot charts instead. In this book, Young Fu encounters a lot of very disastrous situations one after the other, all of which are almost instantly resolved. This structure just doesn't hold my interest at all. I am curious about how plot structure has evolved over the years, as I have noticed a similar structure in other early Newbery winners. I guess it is better than the winners that are a series of incredibly dull vignettes where nothing of significance happens at all.
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
This 1933 Newbery winner is an episodic story of a young Chinese farm boy who is taken to the city after the death of his father. He lives with his mother (who seems a bit neurotic to me as a 21st century American) and is apprenticed to Tang the coppersmith.
Each chapter is essentially a short story revolving around events at Tang's shop, or at home. The tales are infused with traditional Chinese wisdom as Young Fu learns lesson after lesson... most of them the hard way.
I doubt most modern American children would get into this story, but I hope I'm wrong about that.
… (more)
LibraryThing member mirrani
Young Fu is an apprentice and as many apprentice stories, this book describes the trials of having to serve a master. Fu's master is a kind one, though he certainly commands respect and with this combination readers learn how to make good choices in their lives through experiencing the boy's decisions and the consequences of each path chosen in relation to those around him. Becoming someone that others value is often difficult when you feel as if you are just another person out on the street and this story takes you on a journey that is as much about personal evolution as it as about a city's evolution.

The experience of culture is very well done here, as is the experience of learning. Reading this book as a teacher, I found the lessons perhaps a little more obvious than a child would, but I could see the gentle nature in which they were exposed. A child makes a choice that he thinks is an amazing one, he follows that path only to discover that somehow or other it's maybe not the wisest of ideas, and in the end his lesson is learned either on his own or as adults redirect his thought process to discovering what could have been a better path. You can't change the past, money gambled away is lost forever, but you can learn not to become caught in the trap of the game and learn to tell the truth about what happened rather than become caught up in the lie that can only hurt others.

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze is filled with just enough adventure to keep readers turning pages and is so well written that when the last page is turned, you might even be surprised to find that you are still in your own room and not sitting outside a shop somewhere in China.
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LibraryThing member knsievert
This was the first Newbery Winner I've actually enjoyed. Just like the previous book, Waterless Mountain, I felt the quality of writing had improved. Young Fu and his mother must relocate from their country home to the city of Chungking after the death of his father. Young Fu is taken on as an apprentice to Tang, a coppersmith. He quickly becomes one of Tang's best and most-trusted workers. Additionally, he befriends and begins learning from the scholar living above him. He has various adventures and almost always comes out on top.… (more)


xii; 302


(57 ratings; 3.9)
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