The Newbery-Award-winner, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis (1932) was marvelous. The tale of a poor peasant boy and his widowed mother in China in the 1920s was fascinating. The set-up of Young Fu’s being apprenticed in a big city was shown with good attention to the newness of it all. His immaturity and learning curve, being taken in and duped by liars, were believable. His determination to learn and fearlessness in the face of danger made him a remarkable and likable fellow.
His mother had bound feet. Fu Be Be believed she was better than peasant women with big feet who worked in the fields. Other cultural beliefs, such as all white strangers were evil, were well shown. I have no doubt that Foreman Lewis was aware of the status of women and girls in China. The lack of them in this story made sense, but was noticeable, as in the casual mention of young girls crying at a distance from the pain of having their feet bound.
This 1973 edition had an introduction by Pearl S. Buck, one of my favorite authors. I didn’t realize that Young Fu had terrific notes at the back. I’m looking forward to reading them.
The 2nd edition of my historical fiction book, Special Delivery: From One Stop to Another on the Underground Railroad, eBook and paperback, are online at:
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