cover image The Star Fisher

The Star Fisher

Laurence Yep. HarperCollins, $16.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09365-5

Fifteen-year-old Joan Lee tells of her family's hard-won acceptance as the first Chinese-Americans in a small West Virginia town. It is 1927, and few in Clarksburg have the breadth of experience or spirit to offer foreigners their friendship. The Lees are greeted instead by verbal jibes and threats painted on their fence, until their remarkable landlady becomes a catalyst for change. Beneath Joan's direct, deceptively simple narrative voice lies an emotionally complex tale. Drawing on his mother's immigrant experience as the basis for this moving story, Newbery Honor author Yep ( Drag on wings ; The Rainbow People ) skillfully avoids pat or reductive explanations. He gives his heroine, for example, the maturity to recognize the biases her own family holds as well as the courage to stand up to the more blatant and violent prejudices of her neighbors. A traditional Chinese myth about the starfisher--half-bird, half-human, confined to the earth but yearning for the stars--weaves through the story, a poetic but insistent metaphor for Joan's own hopes and dreams. Ages 8-up. (May)