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The Star Fisher Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1992

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on the author's own experiences, this Christopher Award winner movingly describes a Chinese American family's adjustment to their new home in West Virginia in 1927 and the prejudice they encounter there. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-8-- On the first night in their new home in a small West Virginia town, 15-year-old Joan Lee lulls her little sister to sleep with the story of a magical kingfisher who is held captive in human form by her mortal husband, but who is later helped by her daughter. She soon joins her mother in the stars, but is sometimes seen, cometlike, attempting to bridge heaven and Earth. Joan, the oldest daughter of the only Chinese family in 1927 Clarksburg, at first sees only herself in the story's symbols: caught between two worlds. As she braves the curiosity and prejudice of the townspeople, helps bridge a friendship between her mother and an elderly neighbor, and gets acquainted with an enigmatic classmate, she realizes that she is not the only one struggling to find a niche. Joan's story will appeal to any reader who has ever felt excluded, but she and her family seem to hold many more stories begging to be shared. Based on tales Yep gleaned from his mother and her family, whose resilience and humor shine through, The Star Fisher offers tantalizing glimpses of interesting characters, but abruptly shifts focus from a family story with the younger sister as a strong character to a relationship between mother and daughter. Basically, there is too much depth and complexity here to be confined to one book. --Carla Kozak, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books (August 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140360034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140360035
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.4 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Laurence Yep has been fascinated with tales of sibling rivalry from the day he was born. His older brother, Tom, chose his name Laurence - after a saint who died a particularly gruesome death. Laurence has been trying to get even ever since. Laurence Yep now lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife and is one of children's literature's most respected authors. His award-winning titles include Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Plume45 on October 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fifteen-year-old Joan, a Chinese-American girl from Ohio, travels to a rural village in West Virginia in 1927. This daring move makes her family the first Chinese people this town has ever seen. She and her parents immediately discover how odd they are as viwed by prejudiced bums and snobby schoolmates. The Lee family has staked everything on this gamble to unknown territory--without any extended famly to help--where they plan to open a laundry business, as they did in Ohio. Will the townsfolk flock to this new establishment, or continue washing their own dirty shirts?
The first week is a terrible strain on both the parents but especially for Joan, suffering the pangs of teenage acceptance at school and justified rebellion at home. Deeply hurt by rejection from the town in general and a snobby clique at school, Joan feels she just can't fit in, and will never be accepted, although she is praised by her teachers. Then too, she makes a tactical error by befriending a red-headed outcast whose family are Performers! Despite repeated vandalism and hate slogans on their fence, the Lee family refuses to give up and leave. Can a gracious, retired school teacher, with no family of her own, be accepted and adopted by suspicious Chinese parents--who refuse to accept charity from their kind landlady? How far will adults and even their children go to keep from becoming objects of town ridicule or bringing shame upon their family's strict code of honor? We mark Joan's budding maturity, as she recognizes that she is not the only Star Fisher (reference to a Chinese Folktale which is presented in detail) in town. An excellent introduction to culture clash in America.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is about a fifteen year old girl called Joan. She is from Ohio and came to West Virginia to make a new life. When she first came right off the train there were no greetings instead they got bad comments. A lot of people did not treat the Lee's like Americans, although Joan, Bobby, and Emily were born in America. People made fun of the Lee's because they are chinese. Sometimes in the story Joan would compare herself with the star fisher, which is a chinese folk tale. After a pie social, the Lee's start to feel more accepted by more than just a few town members. One thing because they are the first chinese- americans Clarsburg has ever seen doesn't mean that they have any differences, they are still humans they have feelings too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 9, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Looks Don't Matter!

The Star Fisher was an interesting book because of how people started to treat Joan and her family. This is how it began Joan and her family lived in Ohio but then decided to go to West Virginia. Even though her family was American people treated them like they were from outer space, but really they just looked different.
One thing that was really interesting was that even though Joan and her family were American people treated them like outsiders. This is because Joan and her family look Chinese. One person even insulted them but they didn't even do anything! This is just like if some white person would walk up to a black person and call him or her names just because they look different. It's stupid because someone knows nothing about this person and all of a sudden somebody else starts calling this person names just because they look different.
Something else that was interesting was how the land lady treated Joan and her family because she actually treated them nice. For example as soon as the land lady walks down the sidewalk she sees Joan and her sister Emily, instead of walking by like everyone else she stops to talk. Then she asks if they want to come to tea. Unlike other people they would just walk by staring at them. Also a preacher would talk to them but the only time he did was because they were at the land lady's house and the reason why he was there was just to talk to the land lady. So he didn't really mean to talk to them either.
One last thing that was interesting and fascinating was how a pie made everyone start coming to Joan's house and actually talk to them more. It started when Joan's mom was learning to pies with the land lady. Then when she thought her pies were good she decided to enter her pie in the pie auction.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Our first impression of The Star Fisher was that its plot would consist of the typical cultural conflict along with a family's struggle to achieve the elusive American dream. However, Yep did a wonderful job of creating characters that made this book much more than that.
Joan Lee, the main character, is a fifteen-year old Chinese-Ameriacan girl striving to find her place in a small West Virginia community. The inclusion of the old Chinese folktale The Star Fisher serves as a symbolic representation of Joan's struggle to fit into a world that seems very foreign to her in many ways.
We would recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt ostracized because of their cultural differences as well as to those who have been responsible for causing these feelings in another person. There is certainly a lesson to be learned from Joan Lee who is a star fisher in her own unique way.
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By Mara Zonderman on December 14, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1927, Yep's mother moved with her parents and siblings from Ohio to West Virginia. Although her parents are immigrants with little English, the family had a good life in Ohio. But with the move to West Virginia, the family is brought up short by the prejudice that is demonstrated by some townsfolk. Fortunately, they are also confronted with great acts of kindness by other members of the town. Using the metaphor of the star fisher, who lives with one foot on the earth and one in the heavens, Yep convincingly uses his family's story to write a lovely book about family and friendship.
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