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RED MEANS GOOD FORTUNE by Barbara Diamond Goldin


A Story of San Francisco Chinatown

by Barbara Diamond Goldin & illustrated by Wenhai Ma

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-670-85352-6
Publisher: Viking

 In the Once Upon America series, a story set circa 1868-69. Chin Jin Mun, ``a boy of 12 years by the white devils' counting,'' is a delivery boy for his father's laundry. He meets a slave girl, Lew Wai Hing; shocked to learn that she is never allowed outside, he decides to win her freedom. That he succeeds strains credibility, as does the premise that a Chinese boy of this period would not accept the girl's traditional position. Still, Goldin has done her research and created a story from the meager material available about Chinese women in San Francisco at that time, while a subplot involving Jin Mun's brother allows her to discuss the role of the Chinese in building the transcontinental railroad. Some details (Jin Mun's seeing women with bound feet in San Francisco; his learning English at a missionary school) are unlikely for this date, but not impossible. The narrative is readable, though the dialogue is burdened with information. Concluding note; illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-11)