The House of Sixty Fathers

by Meindert Dejong

Hardcover, 1962



Call number

Fic Dej

Call number

Fic Dej

Local notes





Lutterworth Press (1962)


Alone in a sampan with his pig and three ducklings, a little Chinese boy is whirled down a raging river, back to the town from which he and his parents had escaped the invading Japanese, and spends long and frightening days regaining his family and new home.


Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1959)
Newbery Medal (Honor Book — 1957)
Vermont Golden Dome Book Award (Nominee — 1957-1958)
Josette Frank Award (Winner — 1956)

Original publication date


User reviews

LibraryThing member sarahemmm
My mother read this to us when we were children; we all loved it.
LibraryThing member mwittkids
Takes place shortly after the Japanese invasion of China. A young boy journeys across Japanese-occupied land to find his family and then to safety with the American troops.
LibraryThing member DianeVogan
Lost Chinese boy is taken in by American soldiers. Good adventure, historical story.
LibraryThing member jakdomin
This novel is written for children who will certainly gain a greater understanding of Chinese Culture and history of the time period, but is even a gripping novel for adults. This book would be good to read aloud in class because it would reinforce the dramatic (and emotional) details of the story,
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especially at the end. Talking about these emotional moments would be beneficial for the readers to really grasp the importance of this story. Could have reflective lesson on what the animals in the story- ducklings, his pig - symbolize, if anything. Another reflection could be about what Tien Pao learns about the American life from his “sixty fathers” (the airmen, i.e. technology).
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LibraryThing member Elizabeth.Wong98
This book is about a chinese boy, Tien Pao, who is lost and all alone except for his faithful pig who's name is Glory of the Republic. The boat that he lives on with his parents is swept downriver with just him and his pig on it. Unsure of himself, Tien Pao starts the long journey back to his
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family. On the way he has many challenges such as avoiding Japanese soldiers, protecting his pig from hungry children, finding food, and much more. Tien Pao meets some American soldiers who help him in his search and also learns about American ways and cultures. He also unwittingly becomes part of the resistance against the Japanese. Even Glory of the Republic is involved. Eventually, the tired boy finds his mother and is reunited happily.

This is one of the best historical fiction books I've ever read. One of the best parts was Tien Pao's relationship with the little pig who is his constant companion. It was heartbreaking when he was separated from his beloved family and then heartbreaking again when he was reunited. This book also opened my eyes to the kindness of human beings. A old woman risked her life to help the resistance and Tien Pao and eventually paid the absolute price for it. This book also gave me insight on how much a different culture can affect someone in a positive way. I stayed up all night reading this book, and it was truly awakening. I highly recommend this book.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
A few years ago when reading The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, I learned more about the extreme animosity Chinese people hold for the Japenese.

This 1957 Newbery Honor book reinforced what I learned. This is a tale of the Japenese invasion of China. As they systematically
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descerated the land, murdering the poor peasants, bullets shot throughout the air, finding helpless targets, and in the aftermath, red fire raged through the huts, burning livestock and people within.

This is a tale of Tien Pao, a brave little boy whose family fled their village in the only remaining sampan. Rowing day and night to move further internally, they finally found a place to moor their sampan. Exhausted and hungry, Tien Pao's mother carried his baby sister on her back and she and his father sought work.

Leaving Tien Pao alone during the day with only the family pig for company. Lonely, he watched as a group of water buffalo played dangerously close to the sampan. Unaware that one of them loosened the rope that bound the sampan to the shore, Tien Pao driffed alone as the current took him right back into the mountainous territory where the Japenese were now invading.

In his journey, he miraculously rescuing an American solidier. When they were found by Chinese resistance fighters, the solidier was sheltered and then returned to his troop. Keeping Tien Pao with them, they felt it a mission to try to return him to his parents. As the fighting increased, they were not able to do so.

Once again, alone and frightened, Tien Pao was rescued. This time by American solidiers who whisked him to their barricks. As 65 men became his father, he was grateful, but still, knowing despite all odds, he vowed to find his parents.

Thoroughtout his journies, his trusted friend the pig, now called "Beauty of the Republic", accompanied him in his sheer determination to be reunited with his biological parents.

Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member MattPearson
This is a great book for students, but I don't think it ages as well. Some books please you at every age, but this one hasn't aged as well for me. Still, a terrific read if you haven't read it already.
LibraryThing member librisissimo
How anyone would give this book to a child younger than HS escapes me. The scenes of the Japanese armies invading China are harrowing, especially with absolutely no historical context, or even identification of the time period. Also, the boy Tien Pao is supposed to be sympathetic, and no doubt many
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people even his age survived under remarkable conditions, but the struggle is presented in a kind of "betweener" fashion that dscribes the hardships without really explaining how impossible it was that he made it through 9even with fortuitous aid).
The miraculous happy ending is okay, but the emphasis is on "miracle".
The presence of Americans in China is never explained, nor why they would be so helpful, other than as sixty dei ex machine.
(Was this supposed to be based on a true story somehow? Per Wiki, the author was a pilot like the ones I the book.)
Style: I hate back-stitched beginnings. There was no reason not to start with the Tien family running for their lives, other than as a cheap hook -- which is terribly confusing for younger readers. Also, the title leads one to expect more time in the "House" than just the final couple of chapters.
Plus, one of my own pet peeves: the baby's Chinese name is rendered in English, to give a reason for the name of the pig - why doesn't Tien Pao have his name in English, or at least reference the other two in Chinese.
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Oy, talk about an adventure story.  Takes place in China during WWII, so, educational - but also ever so exciting.  A reissue would def. appeal to modern children.  Sendak's art is wonderful, but not as highly personal as his work for the books he writes himself, more straightforward... and more
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apt, imo.  Inspired by DeJong's own experience in China.
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LibraryThing member streckertribe
We read this as a family read aloud with a 7, 10 and 12 year old and we couldn't put it down! We all loved it. I wouldn't give it to a young child to read on their own. It was good for the children to imagine what it would be like for other kids growing up through a war. LOVED IT!
LibraryThing member GRLopez
Based on true events during the Sino-Japanese War, a young Chinese boy, Tien Pao, and his piglet were separated from his parents and baby sister. The Japanese had burned and occupied their village, and they were forced to flee. One day the family sampan -- carrying Tien Pao and his pig --
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accidentally floated back into enemy territory. After making his way to shore, he sought to find his way back to his family through treacherous mountainous trails. Starving and exhausted, he and his pig slept in caves by day, and travelled by night.

One of those days he witnessed the Japanese shoot down an American military plane. Tien Pao rescued the injured pilot, and with the aid of a group of Chinese guerrillas, they carried him back to his unit. And when Tien Pao arrived at the village where his parents were last seen, the people were already fleeing because of the Japanese. Tien Pao searched relentlessly until he was picked up by a couple of American pilots and taken back to their barracks where they looked after him. All sixty pilots did. Hence the name House of Sixty Fathers.

Meanwhile, the injured pilot Tien Pao met in the mountains was part of this unit, and he took the young boy to search for his parents. Of course, he recognized his mother while she was working at a nearby airfield, where they were reunited.

This juvenile story has won many awards: Newberry Honor, Han Christian Andersen, and ALA Notable Children's Book. The author wrote this story based on his experiences as a pilot in China during WWII.

I read this to my kids for school because we are studying China during the 1900s to current times. It was somewhat juvenile for them, but it gave them a sense of China before communism, and when the U.S. and China were allies. Now not so much. I also gave the book three stars because it was "agreeable" and we liked it.
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½ (75 ratings; 3.8)
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