cover image The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps

The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps

Stephen Krensky. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $13.95 (90pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31171-7

In his more than 30 books, Krensky ( Who Really Discovered America? ) has often reexamined American history and found stories previously hidden under years of accepted ``fact.'' This time out he turns to the role of Chinese laborers in the building of the transcontinental railroad. In the summer of 1867, 10-year-old Winnie Tucker and her mother leave Sacramento for Cisco, Calif., to join her father, a railroad worker. There Winnie befriends Lee Cheng, a Chinese boy who also works on the railroad. But unlike Winnie's father and the other white workers, Lee endures harsh treatment from his supervisors and receives pitiful wages for the long hours he puts in. Winnie's exposure to the Celestials, as the Chinese are called, causes her to question the prejudices of the adults around her. When an explosion traps Lee's brother and Winnie's father in a mine, Krensky avoids a pat happy ending, instead devising a bittersweet conclusion that renders his historically accurate story even more powerful. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (May)