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Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze Paperback – April 29, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


“It is a story full of adventure that I believe you will enjoy as much as I did. Young Fu won the Newbery Medal, not only because it was historically and culturally accurate, but because it was and is a really good read.” ―Katherine Paterson, Newbery Award-winning author of Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved

From the Publisher

Introduction by Pearl S. Buck. This "accurate, vivid and well-written story" (The New York Times ) is about Young Fu, a country boy, who is apprenticed to a master coppersmith when he and his mother move to the city of Chungking during the exciting and often dangerous 1920s.

A Newbery Medal Book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312380070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312380076
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the story of a thirteen year old boy from the farms of central China who, with his widowed mother, moves to the big city, Chungking (now spelled Chongqing). Because life on the farm is so uncertain, and, in fact, rather dangerous because of banditry, Fu will be apprenticed to Tang, a master coppersmith. The book portrays a turbulent time, after the fall of Imperial government, and before a new order could arise, a time of war and disunity.
I often read this book with my sixth grade class. The author is Western (she left America for a career as a teacher and missionary in Shanghai, Chungking, and Nanking) and sometimes this bias shows through, as does her distaste for rabble-rousing young revolutionaries (early communists?), though perhaps her sentiments would be shared by many modern Chinese.
Still, the book makes fascinating reading. It introduces the reader to a China that has passed into history (thank goodness - it was such a violent time), yet many authentic cultural ideas and customs that are presented in the book persist, such as payment of debts on New Years, crooked streets catching ghosts, etc. There are even a few Chinese expressions. Some are translated into English (like FangXin - let down your heart) and others are kept in Chinese, such as Tuchun (a military governor).
The book is well-written, though quite episodic. This episodic nature can be an advantage, though, since it may be possible to shorten the book when presenting it to a class by skipping some chapters.
Also, in the back of the book is an appendix, keyed to the chapters, that explains some differences between the China of today and the China of the 1920's.
The characters are well drawn.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By christine on September 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze is a wonderful book that I could continue reading a long time. The literature provided by Elizabeth Foreman is rich with interesting characters and a lush background. It seems like you want to get inside of the book and find out what's going on in their heads. The story is set in 1920's China after the Empress dies. There is turmoil and mayhem. Looting and theivery is expected every day. Corrupt soldiers wander the streets looking for an unexpected peasant to push around. Fu is a young boy from the countryside who has come to the city after his father dies. Fu Be Be is Young Fu's mother and she is wary about moving to the dangerous and exhilarating life of the city. Fu is an apprentice to a craftsman named Tang. Immediately Fu is thrust into a whirlwind of responsibility and he shows his soft side. Many obstacles are thrown his way, but he always keeps his humanity intact. When an American woman needs help from a burning building, Fu pushes aside the tales of them and how they can inflict evil upon contact. To see an Chinese book being written by an American is refreshing for the mind.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book won the 1933 Newbery Medal for best contribution to American children's literature. It is the story of five years in the life of a young Chinese boy, begining at age thirteen. He and his mother, following the death of his father, travel to the city of Chungking (now, Chongqing) where he is to be an apprentice to Tang the coppersmith. This book is a vivid and well-presented account of life in central China in the 1920s and young students can use the book as a starting point to the study of twentieth-century China. The author (1892-1958) lived in China for several years, holding a number of teaching posts. An interesting approach was used at a local school. After reading this book, the following school year (6th grade!), the students read Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gale Finlayson on January 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
Set in the turbulence of the early 20th Century this lengthy YA book presents China in political, social and cultural upheaval. The author, who was personally familiar with life there, depicts the gradual coming-of-age of her teenage protagonist, Young Fu. At 13 the rural farm boy arrives with his mother to start a new life in the great city of Chunking. Apprenticed in advance to a firm but kindly coppersmith named Tang Young Fu starts learning the basics of that artistic trade, while Fu Bebe clings to time- honored traditions (the Four Olds)--consistently reproaching new ways of speech, dress, behavior and transportation. To ensure the favor of the gods (one in the kitchen, and one in a street shrine) she spends precious cash on incense.

Young Fu grapples with many adolescent challenges during the next three years: bandits and beggars (both of whom have their own Guilds which demand extortion for protection), hazing of new apprentices and country folk in general, marauding soldiers, a river in flood, a hospital in flames, buying from slick merchants, gambling with professionals, and the greatest of all evils: opium smuggling. As he matures over the fifteen chapters to near manhood Fu manages to impress his demanding but fair master with his honesty, creativity, ingenuity, courage and morality. Even as a youth this resilient fellow can claim a Foreign lady and an elderly scholar as his Friends.

Readers are introduced to Chinese words and customs, as well as snippets of Chinese history and many proverbs which reflect centuries of wisdom and observation of human nature. Young Fu's world experiences the turmoil of the Chinese Nationalists who are grimly determined to reform the entire country, by wresting power from rival warlords.
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