by Laurence Yep

Paperback, 1995



Local notes

PB Yep


HARPERTROPHY (1995), 273 pages


When he accidentally kills a Manchu, a fifteen-year-old Chinese boy is sent to America to join his father, an uncle, and other Chinese working to build a tunnel for the transcontinental railroad through the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1867. Sequel to "Mountain light."


Original publication date


Physical description

273 p.; 7.5 inches

Media reviews

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1993) Yep illuminates the Chinese immigrant experience here and abroad in a follow-up to The Serpent's Children (1984) and Mountain Light (1985). After accidentally killing one of the hated Manchu soldiers, Otter (14) flees Kwangtung for the "Golden Mountain"; he finds his
Show More
adoptive father Squeaky and Uncle Foxfire in the Sierra Nevada, where thousands of "Guests" are laboriously carving a path for the railroad. Brutal cold, dangerous work, and a harsh overseer take their toll as Squeaky is blinded in a tunnel accident, Foxfire is lost in a storm, and other workers are frozen or half-starved. By the end, toughened in body and spirit, Otter resolves never to forget them or their sacrifices. Foxfire and Otter consider themselves only temporary residents here, preparing for the more important work of modernizing their own country while ridding it of Manchu, Europeans, and, especially, the scourge of opium. America is a dreamlike place; English dialogue is printed in italics as a tongue foreign to most of the characters; and though Otter befriends the overseer's troubled son, such social contact is discouraged on both sides. In a story enlivened with humor and heroism, Yep pays tribute to the immigrants who played such a vital role in our country's history. Explanatory note; reading list. 1993
Show Less

User reviews

LibraryThing member franoscar
Young Adult book about a Chinese boy who comes to the US to work on a Railroad in the Sierra Nevadas. It is pretty predictable. He talks about how the workers came to the US & then went back to China & influenced the development of China, which is something I had not previously thought
Show More
Show Less
LibraryThing member sdglenn
Diversity in classroom. Great for grades 5-8. Fiction. When he accidentally kills a Manchu, a Chinese boy is sent to America to join his father, an uncle, and other Chinese working to build a tunnel for the transcontinental railroad through the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1867. The only
Show More
illustrations are on the cover and they seem to be drawn with color pencils.
Show Less
LibraryThing member rpanek
This is a story about a fifteen-year-old Chinese boy who accidentally kills a Manchu, a member of the tyrannical ruling class in China. He is sent to America to join his father, uncle, and others build a tunnel for the continental railroad through the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1867.
The themes in
Show More
this book are: Chinese laborers, emigration, cold and hunger, poverty and exhaustion, maimings and death, and survival and adventure. This book appeals to students who enjoy realistic/ historical fiction.
Show Less
LibraryThing member dmckenna
In this story of a boy named Otter who circumstance forces him to leave his home in China. He goes to live in Californiato live with his father and uncle. The situation he faces is unlike the vision he had of his new home. He discovers that the Chinese workers endure horrific treatment by their
Show More
employers. They are apart of a group that is slowly building a railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Show Less
LibraryThing member clhildreth
This would be a great book to use to discuss the immigration of people from other countries into the U.S. and how they were treated when they first arrived. Would be appropriate for upper elementary grades.
LibraryThing member kthomp25
Dragon'sGate tells an interesting story of a boy who wants to come to America but doesn't know what he's getting into as a laborer on the transcontiental railroad. It's just two years after the end of the Civil War, but in this book Americans are treating the Chineese workers as slaves, whipping
Show More
them and preventing them from walking off the job.

The description of the conditions is long and detailed, and the begiinning of the story which occrus in China after the British have introduced opium trade is left unfinished. An interesting book, but a difficult one.
Show Less
LibraryThing member cfk
Otter is a fourteen year old boy adopted and raised as the son of the wealthiest family in Three Willows Village, China in the 1860's. Accidentally killing a Manchurian soldier, Otter is sent to America by his Mother to join his Father and Uncle.

Uncle Foxfire is a visionary who dreams of learning
Show More
more about America's machines and the new 'fire wagon' to free his people from the Manchurian rule and the English opium trade wars. Father and Uncle sign contracts to work on the transcontinental railroad where Otter joins them, only to discover themselves treated as the worst kind of slaves under impossible working and living conditions.

Ultimately, with his Uncle dead and his injured Father sent home, Otter will lead the Chinese in a protest to improve their wages and living conditions and participate in the completion of the railroad.
Show Less
LibraryThing member electrascaife
Otter travels from China to the States to join his father and uncle in the land of the Golden Mountain. But all he finds there is bitter cold and unfair working conditions as the white men overwork and exploit the Asian workers who are building a train tunnel through the mountain. Still, he manages
Show More
to learn some valuable life lessons, including how to stand up for what's right in the face of terrifying authority, and by the time he begins his journey back home, he is ready to take that fight back to the Manchu.
This Newbery Honor book was fair but not earth-shattering. I admit to falling in and out of attention as I listened to it, although it did have its occasional gripping moments.
Show Less




(76 ratings; 3.5)
Page: 0.7788 seconds